Opinion: GOP’s Obamacare failure has many fathers (and mothers)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. (Melina Mara / The Washington Post)

The biggest lie in politics over the past several years has been that the Republican Party is a band of blinkered zealots who mulishly pursue an ideological agenda. If you didn’t see that before the failed vote on even a slimmed-down version of Obamacare repeal early Friday morning, you should now.

There is a Republican perspective on how to right the wrongs of Obamacare (not to be confused with “fixing” health care, since unwinding the policies that made the health-insurance marketplace worse is merely a first step toward solving the problems that predated that law; you might call them the market’s pre-existing conditions). It includes: incentivizing, but not forcing, people to buy health insurance; allowing people to buy plans that actually function like insurance rather than prepaid health care (and slowly encouraging more people to do so); leveling the tax treatment of health insurance between those who buy their plans through their employers and those who don’t; weaning able-bodied people off a safety-net program intended for those who truly can’t take care of themselves; and accomplishing most of these things by placing more authority closer to the people, in state governments that can more easily attempt innovations that yield real progress.

The problem in the Senate, which has been evident for weeks now, is there are Republicans who only want to vote for certain of those elements. Set aside any frustration you might have with John McCain; he was correct that “skinny” repeal didn’t really fulfill the promise Republicans had made to voters, even if it’s unclear which “real” repeal he thinks could actually pass the Senate. And at least Susan Collins didn’t vote for full repeal in 2015 before turning tail and refusing to do so now, when there’s a president who would actually sign such a bill. She might not have a logical stance that also fits with what her party has promised to do, but hey: She’s consistent in that incoherence.

No, the problem is better laid at the feet of those senators whose hesitation, when given the chance to fulfill their campaign promises, led to the creation of the “skinny” bill in the first place. And in this case, it’s not the usual, most ideological, suspects. Senate leadership bent a lot further in the direction of moderates such as Lisa Murkowski and Dean Heller, without securing their support for a more robust bill. Instead, even the slight movement toward Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, in the form of an amendment to allow a wider variety of insurance plans, caused the moderates to balk. With Collins an apparent “no” on anything, and ditto for Rand Paul when it comes to anything that might actually pass (is it really “principled” to be only for things you know are impossible, eliminating the chance to improve matters at all?), some give and take was required between the other conservatives and moderates. It wasn’t the more ideologically conservative Republicans, in this case, who were unwilling to give at all.

Let us also face a real fact: President Trump deserves blame here. It is not just that his only policy goal here has been nothing more than signing “a bill,” any bill, with nary a hand in the hard work of shaping said bill. No, that might be workable if he had been willing to use his bully pulpit to drum up public support for what senators were trying to put together on their own, and public pressure on the holdouts. Instead, what have we gotten from this White House during this crucial week?

  • Attacks on the attorney general for (properly) recusing himself from an investigation into Russian interference in the election, leading several Republican senators to line up against the president.
  • An out-of-the-blue, vague announcement of a policy change regarding transgender persons in the military, disavowed by key Republican senators and seemingly halted by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
  • A ham-handed threat to Murkowkski, delivered by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, that backfired when the senator delayed a confirmation hearing for some of Zinke’s deputies and pointed out she controls his department’s budget.
  • And, just as a bonus, a profane attack on Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon by the new (irony alert) communications director in a perhaps unintentionally on-the-record conversation with a reporter.

To sum up: At the most crucial hour, this administration has given senators no policy direction but lots of unnecessary distraction and annoyance.

But hey, at least we have Sen. Kid Rock, R-Michigan, coming in the cavalry.

Reader Comments 0

379 comments
skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

Mueller impanels a grand jury- beginning of the end for theOrange clown's  circus.

gijejukap
gijejukap

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skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

How is that apology tour by Pence going as Russia assembles 100,000 troops on European border?



I wonder if he dares wear a Make America Great hat?

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

"President Trump deserves blame here"

Not sure I agree with that. Trump arrived on the scene six months ago. The GOP senators (most anyway) have been in place for years - more than enough time to formulate a coherent, workable strategy for repairing the ACA. If memory serves President Obama largely stepped aside and allowed the (then) Dem controlled Congress to craft the details of ACA without White House micromanaging.  

If there's "blame" it rests squarely with the GOP Senate: weak leadership, overthinking the problem, unwillingness to compromise with the opposition.

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

Read and weep cons and Trumpsters:

"""I’ve been sympathetic to this impulse to denial, as one doesn’t ever want to believe that the government of the United States has been made dysfunctional at the highest levels, especially by the actions of one’s own party. Michael Gerson, a con­servative columnist and former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, wrote, four months into the new presidency, “The conservative mind, in some very visible cases, has become diseased,” and conservative institutions “with the blessings of a president … have abandoned the normal constraints of reason and compassion.”




For a conservative, that’s an awfully bitter pill to swallow. So as I layered in my defense mechanisms, I even found myself saying things like, “If I took the time to respond to every presiden­tial tweet, there would be little time for anything else.” Given the volume and velocity of tweets from both the Trump campaign and then the White House, this was certainly true. But it was also a monumental dodge. It would be like Noah saying, “If I spent all my time obsessing about the coming flood, there would be little time for anything else.” At a certain point, if one is being honest, the flood becomes the thing that is most worthy of attention. At a certain point, it might be time to build an ark.

Under our Constitution, there simply are not that many people who are in a position to do something about an executive branch in chaos. As the first branch of government (Article I), the Congress was designed expressly to assert itself at just such moments. It is what we talk about when we talk about “checks and balances.” Too often, we observe the unfolding drama along with the rest of the country, passively, all but saying, “Someone should do something!” without seeming to realize that that someone is us. And so, that unnerving silence in the face of an erratic executive branch is an abdication, and those in positions of leadership bear particular responsibility."""


Jeff Flake GOP Representative from Arizona

T


Pub Heaven
Pub Heaven

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The one with no chaos...

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lorup
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breckenridge
breckenridge

If Trump gets rid of Sessions the former reality television star will lose the support he has remaining from republicans in Congress.


If Trump gets rid of Mueller then the former reality television star is finished, he will be ousted from the office of president.

breckenridge
breckenridge

 another making up stories about inaccurate polling showing Trump going down with independent voters

Yeah? Make this up loon.......


The most pronounced swing seen in the poll was among independents. Over the past four months, their approval of the president has dissipated. In February, 40 percent of independents said they approved of the job Trump was doing, with 51 percent disapproving. Four months later in June, just 31 percent say they approve of the president with 59 percent of independents disapproving — a 17-point net-negative drop.

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/28/534602973/trump-fails-to-reach-beyond-base-as-independents-disapproval-grows

Marjorie J. Gray
Marjorie J. Gray

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breckenridge
breckenridge

USA TODAY July 30 - Donald Trump is becoming a president without a party.

From the start of his unconventional campaign two years ago, Trump has been more of a populist than a Republican, from his combative style to his protectionist stance on trade. His ability to reach voters drawn by his personal appeal rather than his party affiliation has been a source of political strength and possibility in a nation where allegiance to both Republicans and Democrats has eroded.

But the most disruptive week of a disruptive presidency is testing whether other elected Republicans will continue to back him up, and whether he can govern if they don't.

Bingo.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

""""Logic problem. If Obamacare is not helping people, why hasn't it been easy to repeal and we talk about newly uninsured in the CBO reports.""""

In the 2012 election cycle, the insurance industry contributed a record $58.7 million to federal parties and candidates as well as outside spending groups.

https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=F09

Any questions?

Starik
Starik

@AndyManUSA#45  Obamacare is helping people. It could help more if improved and expanded. 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Imagine that, the government as-shats who created the massive failure that is medicaid/obozocare fashion themselves as experts in the field of health insurance.

😂

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@AndyManUSA#45 Logic problem.  If Obamacare is not helping people, why hasn't it been easy to repeal and we talk about newly uninsured in the CBO reports.


Logic problem number 2.  People want to cover preexisting conditions, let kids stay on parents plans, and they don't want to lose coverage.  Those 3 things are essentially Obamacare.  If thats it, do people just hate the name Obamacare?


Logic problem 3.  There are problems in red states to be sure, but many of those problems are because of the governance in red states.  How come you never hear about failures in blue states?

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Trump ran a multi billion dollar construction and development company, that provided health care to it's tens of thousands of employees, probably taking care of more people than Medicaid ever has. The democracks, who have only run their mouths, says the man knows nothing about health care. Now there maybe some confusion here because we are talking about government versus privately provided insurance plans. I agree 100% that Trump knows nothing about providing health care plans that no one can afford and no doctor will accept. Maybe he needs a government expert to explain the nuances of such things, no?

😂

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@AndyManUSA#45 Trump sells terrible steaks and vodka to rubes like yourself.


That was made overseas. 


They dont get insurance.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

In the absence of any tangible proof of Trump collusion with the Russians the democrat tin foil hat brigade is now brought down to personal attacks like one fool who I won't name on here ranting about the orange clown, another making up stories about inaccurate polling showing Trump going down with independent voters or some just attacking fellow posters because they have a different view on politics. Not one has been able to launch a cogent argument on Trump policy statements largely because they have no clue as to what they are and wouldn't know how to argue even if they did.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

There is evidence of trying to collude. Don Jr. admitted it after lting about it. He was caught red handed.

Trump doesn't have policy statements because he hasn't implemented much policy beyond appointments and celebratory days. His lack of deal making means he never gets any policy passed.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@JFMcNamara Trump doesn't have policy statements


Its more than that. He doesnt understand the issues. At all.


Healthcare. Do you really think a trust fund baby from NYC know about healthcare concerns of the average American ? Please


He knows this about healthcare


Its going to be beautiful. Its going to cover everyone. Its going to cost a fraction of what we are paying now. Oh and did I mention its going to be beautiful.


This is the talk of a con man. A carnival barker and pitchman.


None of it is true of course. As Republicans just found out the hard way.


SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Hedley_Lammar @JFMcNamara 

The Republicans found out what I'm sure they already knew. They had two RINO's and another who only wanted attention for himself who showed up at the final hour. In the latter case they knew they had a maverick on there hands from previous experiences in the senate.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@SGTGrit @Hedley_Lammar @JFMcNamara Its their. 


Not there genius. 


Always easy to spot an ignorant Trump voter.


Hey did Trump find out the truth about Obama's birth certificate yet ?


LOL. Once a sucker always a sucker. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Dana Perino had an interesting thought move Jeff Sessions to take over for Kelly at DHS where Sessions would have a clean slate to do a great job and appoint a new A.G. like say Ted Cruz. The move would give Trump better management visibility into the DOJ that he doesn't have currently. The new A.G. could make sure that Mueller was focusing investigations into the Russian meddling and that his team wasn't going off on boondoggle witch hunts. A win, win for the public and a propaganda loss for the Democrats.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@SGTGrit and appoint a new A.G. like say Ted Cruz.


With my apologizes I will no longer respond to any of your posts.


Anyone even suggesting this isnt worthy of serious discussion. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Hedley_Lammar @SGTGrit 

Good I'll remember that. I was only showing courtesy to you in a condescending way anyhow.
But I'll accept your capitulation.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

2.6 GDP...moving in the right direction. The slow growth below 2% GDP economy under Obama was described by left leaning economists as the new normal. That was the Obama administrations new normal of over regulation and high taxes. It is now the old normal. MAGA

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

What specific policies did Trump implement to achieve this growth? Tax reform hasn't happened, Obamacare is still law, and banking regs are still on the books.

The economy grew 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2016 before slowing down. Were you singing the praises of Obama then ir tslking about how terrible the economy was...I think we both know the answer...

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@JFMcNamara 

GDP averaged under 2% during Obama's two terms in office. He presided over the weakest recession recovery since WWII. Are you singing the praises of that weak showing...I know that we both know the answer to that.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@SGTGrit @JFMcNamara  He presided over the weakest recession recovery since WWII.


It was BY FAR the deepest recession since WW II


So of course the recovery was slower. It was that deep of a hole.


Funny how Sean Hannity leaves that part out huh ?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@JFMcNamara Notice he didnt mention any specific policies. Why ?


Because he doesnt know of any.


This economy is still the Obama economy. The Trump one wont be felt for a few years now

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Hedley_Lammar @JFMcNamara 

Sorry the Obama economy left after the first quarter of this year and the adjusted GDP was1.4%. Unless you have a serious reading comprehension problem I did reference immigration, trade, domestic energy production, deregulation, tax reform and rebuilding the military. Where do you stand on those issues? BTW...nothing against Sean, but I don't watch his show and just to also let you know I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh either.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@JFMcNamara @SGTGrit @Hedley_Lammar


Obama's party certainly had a role in causing the recession and Obama was a member of that party. Next bit of ignorance that I can help you with.
 BTW...reading challenged one, I said South of 2% average during Obama's two terms.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

You may want to look at your own chart, dude, last years growth was 1.9%.

Just saying.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@AndyManUSA#45 my bad, last year wasn't complete.  Thats why its yellow.  Either way, my point is proven.  2.6% in a quarter is not out of the norm.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Illegal immigration down to a trickle, which means the democracks will have about 3 million fewer voters in the next election. That in itself is a reason to call Trump a success. But wait, there's more; al qaeda, defeated. The United States is now a net energy exporter and this is putting a giant squeeze on the Russian and Middle Eastern economies with more of an effect than any little sissy sanctions the thieves and liars in Congress could ever pass. Increased defense spending. The Deep State being rooted out and soon to be placed on trial. The Dow Jones up 20%. Lower unemployment rates. A growing GDP. I could go on and on.

These are things that the verminous liberals see as bad for our country. I'm not making that up, go down and read cleptoridges comment where he defecated it.

Thijnk about how much they hate this country.

Sick!

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

""""That in itself is a reason to call Trump a success.""""

For real, this success breeds more success, for the fewer democracks we have in office, the better our country will be.

STHornet1990
STHornet1990

@AndyManUSA#45  "I could go on and on." Undoubtedly you will, and still have nothing to contribute. Talking to yourself on an internet blog is a sign IWhiner. Self diagnosis may be your friend.