Republicans’ half-hearted attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare last week was exposed by Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks on Monday, when Brooks introduced the following one-sentence bill in the House of Representatives:
Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.
Naturally, the bill didn’t come up for a vote. If it had, it would have gone down to failure, since Republicans don’t have the intestinal fortitude to keep the key promise that brought them to power over the past seven years. Even if it had passed the House, it surely wouldn’t have passed the Senate. And even if it had passed the Senate, it certainly would have been vetoed by President Trump, who would never sign onto a repeal of Obamacare without retaining that law’s key elements.
Herein lies the problem.
Republicans fibbed to their constituents for years on end about their intention to kill Obamacare. What they really meant is that they wanted to trim around the edges, and use the harsh language as a club with which to beat Democrats. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) made that clear today when he explained that no health care bill would be brought through reconciliation, the legislative process that would allow Republicans to avoid a filibuster to curb Obamacare. Instead, he said, “It’s clear it needs to be done on a bipartisan basis.”
And President Trump agrees. Last night, he tweeted:
This is delusional. Democrats will not cut a deal with Trump no matter what. They know he’s weak in the polls, and their own base would slaughter them wholesale for reaching across the aisle.
But Republicans apparently won’t keep any promise that puts them in political danger. Thus, Republicans who promised to destroy Obama’s executive amnesty have done nothing but re-effectuate it; Republicans who promised to revoke the Obama administration’s disastrous Iran deal now say they’re committed to enforcing it strictly.
That isn’t to say that Republicans won’t do anything. But Congressional Republicans won’t do much. Virtually all of the controversial conservative wins thus far have come courtesy of President Trump through executive action – rollbacks of Obama-era environmental regulations, crackdowns on sanctuary cities, the nomination of Judge Gorsuch – and virtually none have come via Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Meanwhile, Trump is already signaling that he wants to move to the populist – read: big government – section of his agenda.
That’s not how any of this was supposed to work. Conservatives helped oust Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) for his myriad failures in pressing forward a conservative agenda; they elected a Republican House, Senate, and president. If all of the big talk about getting rid of Obama’s signature achievements was just talk, Republicans deserve whatever comes next electorally.