Saturday, March 25, 2017

Must read: 'GOP cave on Obamacare repeal is the biggest broken promise in political history'

This is hands down the best article I've seen on the failure of the AHCA (aka 'SwampCare', aka 'RyanCare', aka 'TrumpCare', aka 'ObamaCareLite', aka 'Renege & Repair') by Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner.

Here's part of the article - you can and should read it in full here.

GOP cave on Obamacare repeal is the biggest broken promise in political history


Broken promises are as old as politics itself, and there are many famous examples of them in modern history. President George H.W. Bush's "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge comes immediately to mind, as does President Bill Clinton reneging on his middle-class tax cut, and President Barack Obama never closing Guantanamo Bay. But in each of those cases, those were promises that were made in a given campaign by a given politician. The promise of Obamacare repeal is much different.

Republicans ran on repealing and replacing Obamacare for seven years, over the course of four election cycles. They won the House majority in 2010 in large part because of the backlash against the passage of Obamacare — and the vow to "repeal and replace" Obamacare was part of their "Pledge to America" campaign document that year. The botched rollout of Obamacare helped them win the Senate in 2014. House candidates, Senate candidates, gubernatorial candidates, and even state legislative candidates ran against Obamacare — and won.

Though President Trump was always an unorthodox candidate on healthcare (vacillating between praising single-payer and touting a free market plan), he consistently campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare, and exploited news of spiking premiums in the weeks leading up to the presidential election.

Republicans were always moving the goal posts on voters. That is, during campaign season, they made boasts about repeal, and then once in office, they talked about procedural complications. In 2010, they campaigned on repeal, but by 2011, they said they needed the Senate. In 2014, they won the Senate, but by 2015 they said as long as Obama was in office, nothing would become law. In 2016, they told conservative voters, even reluctant ones, that if they voted for Trump despite any reservations, they'd finally be able to repeal Obamacare. In November, voters gave them unified control of Washington. And yet after just two months on the job, they have thrown in the towel and said they're willing to abandon seven years of promises.

There are a lot of people who want to conveniently lay the blame for this stunning failure on recalcitrant members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. If only these conservative hardliners were willing to give way, we'd be on the road to repeal, defenders of leadership would like to have us believe. This is convenient, both because there are always people in Washington eager to take aim at conservative purists, and also because it has the makings of a great ironic hot take for journalists: "How conservatives saved Obamacare."

Now, let me be clear, in past fights, I've never been reluctant to criticize hardliners when I thought that they were being unreasonable or irresponsible. For instance, I disagreed with the hard-line position on the debt ceiling, didn't think forcing a government shutdown to defund Obamacare would work, and supported the deal that made most of the Bush tax cuts permanent (as opposed to letting them all expire). But I don't think it's fair to scapegoat Freedom Caucusers here. They are being blamed for making the naive mistake of assuming that Republicans wanted to do what they were promising to do for seven years.

In this case, the hardliners were playing a productive role by pointing out the real policy consequences of the piecemeal approach being pursued by the House leadership. Though we'll never know for sure how the numbers might have looked if a vote had taken place, it's clear that many centrist members of the Republican caucus were also prepared to vote this bill down. House conservatives, if they could be blamed for anything, it's for having the audacity to urge leadership to actually honor seven years of pledges to voters to repeal Obamacare. If anybody was moving the goal posts, it wasn't Freedom Caucusers, it was those who were trying to sell a bill that kept much of Obamacare's regulatory architecture in place as a free market repeal and replace plan.

Sure, I know, Republicans had a narrow majority, and they could only pass something through the Senate by reconciliation, which imposes limitations. But the thing is, Republicans don't hide behind the vagaries of Senate procedure during campaign season. Trump did not win the Republican nomination telling rallies of thousands of people, "We're going to repeal and replace Obamacare — as long as it satisfies the Byrd rule in the judgment of the Senate parliamentarian!"

What's so utterly disgraceful, is not just that Republicans failed so miserably, but that they barely tried, raising questions about whether they ever actually wanted to repeal Obamacare in the first place.

Read the full article at the Washington Examiner (they really need to tone down the popup ads, though...).

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