In a triumph of political fear over political courage, the House Republicans put forth their long-awaited Obamacare repeal that doesn’t repeal Obamacare on Thursday, declaring victory in the process. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) received a standing ovation from the House GOP as Democrats shouted, “Read the bill” and “what’s the score?,” a reference to the lack of a Congressional Budget Office score on the measure.
The Republicans are expected to arrive at the White House for a triumphal self-rewarding with President Trump imminently.
If victorious, Republicans will be having a big press conference at the beautiful Rose Garden of the White House immediately after vote!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2017
The pictures aren't going to be good for Republicans if premiums rise and/or the number of people on insurance drops. This is just not smart politics.
So, why did this Frankenstein monster of a bill pass? For two reasons: first, conservative Republicans didn’t want the blowback of voting down a second attempt at supposed Obamacare repeal; second, moderate Republicans wouldn’t vote for actual Obamacare repeal. Both had an interest in voting for a repeal that wasn’t a repeal, in other words, just for different reasons. As Jake Tapper tweeted:
GOP consultant: "House majority is in greater jeopardy if we DONT pass this than if we do... the bottom falls out if we don't get something"— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 4, 2017
The bill is essentially dead on arrival as it currently stands in the Senate. Republicans have a bare-bones 52 vote majority there, and some Republican Senators are already looking queasy. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted:
I appreciate the apparent progress on health care reform in the House of Representatives. I will admit, I’m concerned with the process.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 4, 2017
A bill -- finalized yesterday, has not been scored, amendments not allowed, and 3 hours final debate -- should be viewed with caution.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 4, 2017
So, what’s likely to happen? A watering down of the already Obamacare-Lite bill that just passed the House. Which will then make its way back to the House, where House Republicans will sign off on it in another empty attempt to “repeal” Obamacare.
If this thing passes, it’s going to get worse, not better.
Perhaps it was worthwhile passing this bill, but only as a stopgap measure requiring an enormous amount of further work. To champion it as the long-awaited death of government-run healthcare is a lie, and an idiotic, easily-disprovable lie at that. Unfortunately, that lie will allow Democrats to claim that the free market is failing when it’s still never been tried – all so that Republicans can pretend to their base that they cured a cancer that’s still gnawing at the bowels of the American health care system.