President Donald Trump declared Tuesday he's going to "let Obamacare fail" after the Republicans' effort to rewrite the 2010 health care overhaul imploded in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a vote on a backup plan simply repealing the statute, but desertions by his own party seemed to ensure that would fail, too.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said they opposed McConnell's Plan B. That's enough to spell defeat and could send a message to conservative Republicans that it is time to abandon efforts to tear down Obama's law.
There'd already been a bit of grumbling over how the Senate Replace bill had been mishandled, and when Senator McCain's emergency blood clot surgery forced a suspension on the vote, it gave the naysayers enough to time to make their concerns known. Apparently when McConnell tried to promise his caucus that the Medicaid funding wouldn't really go away as feared, he actually lost some of the Far Right members, killing the main plan.
So McConnell switched to a straight-up Repeal bill, bringing back one from 2015 (allowable, I guess) to vote as soon as possible. What THAT bill did was kill off all funding but kept the rules in place, which would have kicked even MORE people off health care coverage - CBO scoring had it at 32 million by 2026, with 18 million in the first year! - while forcing everyone else to pay a 100 percent increase on premiums.
Even the Moderates in the Senate - Collins especially - had to balk at that.
Where the game against Obamacare goes from here is still an open matter: As I've said repeatedly, the Republicans want their goddamn tax cuts - at the expense of the social safety net - at all hazards. But the failure here in the Senate - and the struggles earlier in the House - are highlighting the problems where the GOP have trapped themselves.
By constantly screeching for years to Repeal (and forced to offer a form of Replace), the Republicans can't turn themselves around and compromise on the existing health care system. Every offered plan has a major flaw - kicking people off coverage, which can be lethal - and nobody is willing to volunteer to give up their health care plans.
The Republicans' idea of compromise - where they insist the Democrats cave to their demands and then take the blame when it all goes to hell - is useless. The Democrats may not have explicit power right now in government being in the minority and out of the White House, but they have the ability now to say NO and stick to that. They're forcing the Republicans to deal within their own ranks - which has empowered both the Far Right AND NOW the Moderates who are punching back - and lift their own works... something the Republicans really don't want to do. Enough of them know damn well not to be holding this hand grenade when it goes off.
It does not help that this Republican Congress is trying to cope with a weak
But trump has almost no political capital to use. Granted, he's got his rabid fan base to scare the weaker members of the GOP. But when it comes to wheeling and dealing, he holds few favors with the major players. His current legal woes - under constant investigation for not only his Russian ties but also other scandals with his Foundation and elsewhere - doesn't give him a chance to make favors for the future (if he has one).
Making it worse is that trump is failing at reaching out: He's either tried bullying, berating, mocking those in Congress he thinks are stalling his glorious promises, or buttering up those who are not the ones he needs to win over. He's not building the back-room connections necessary between White House and the Capitol. It's not helping that his West Wing is criminally understaffed: if trump had hired enough people to massage the right Congresscritters, we'd be seeing results (granted, NOT the results we'd like...).
Update: It's worse than THAT. trump's dinner invite to "talk about the health care bill" turned into a ego-inflating talk about how France had treated him on his recent visit. The idiot cannot focus.
So what happens now?
The next major issue - one that Congress cannot avoid - is their planned budget for 2018. The proposal in the House is a massive tax cut, spending cut disaster... that may lose Far Right support from the "Freedom" Caucus because it doesn't go far enough in slashing the safety net. And this time, I don't think the House Moderates are going to accept any excuse from Ryan to back his efforts...
Keep calling, America. Call your Congresscritter, call your Senators. Remind the Republicans they have to answer for their sins, remind the Democrats to stand firm against any cut that will hurt the public.
This party ain't over.
No visible means of support and you have not seen nothing yet
Everything's stuck together
And I don't know what you expect staring into the TV set
Fighting fire with fire...
- "Burning Down the House" Talking Heads