(Rich Galen, Mullings) – OK. Enough.
Enough pointing, and jumping up and down, and sneering.
“Repeal and Replace” failed. Ignominiously.
Everybody gets some of the blame. Some of the blame goes to President Donald Trump. Less, though, than most people are assigning. His blame comes largely from the hubris borne of ignorance during the campaign when, according to the Liberal group “Think Progress” Trump promised 68 times to “Repeal and Replace.” The first time was on the first day his campaign.
But, when it came down to it, President Trump did everything he could with the limited knowledge of the way things work. And a limited knowledge of what was in the bill.
I would not be surprised to find that in his lobbying House Republicans on health care, Trump spent more time with more Members of Congress in meetings at the White House than Barack Obama did in eight years.
But, as you have heard and read 12 billion times since the bill was pulled from the Floor last Friday, he couldn’t close the deal, and none of the geniuses around him in the White House were able to help.
House Republicans generally, of course. But within that group the Speaker, Paul Ryan, lost control of the process. As of last Friday, Ryan had been Speaker of the House for 512 days – since October 2015.
He had all those days. All that time. To work with all factions of the Republican Conference …
Republicans in the House and Senate call themselves the “Republican Conference.” Democrats call themselves the “Democratic Caucus.” If you hear someone on TV stray from that convention, stop listening to them.
… but he couldn’t get it done.
The “Freedom Caucus” (it’s OK to call yourself a caucus as a sub-group of the Conference) gets its share of the blame because as the successors to the title “Tea Party” many of them are in their offices, have their staffs, are qualifying for their pensions, and have access to the excellent health insurance plans offered to civilians on the Federal payroll solely on the basis of “Repeal and Replace.”
There’s an old saying around here: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” If reports of negotiations last week were correct, the definition of “perfection” was a moving target for the Freedom Caucus. In fact, the perfect was the enemy of the other perfect.
Nancy Pelosi gets a share of the blame trophy.
She has known from the beginning that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was a flawed program. As more pieces of it have taken effect the flaws have become more obvious: cracks in the system have become fractures, fractures have become crevasses, crevasses have become the Grand Canyon.
Yet, through all of those policy failures and political defeats she refused to reach across the aisle and offer to help turn “Repeal and Replace” into “Repair and Renew.” Not what we’re looking for in our political leaders.
The U.S. Senate. There are 34 Senate seats up for election in 2018. Of those, 25 are seats currently held by Democrats. Republicans only have to defend nine. That leaves 66 U.S. Senators who have nothing at stake in 2018 who have spent this entire episode hiding under their historic desks hoping – praying – that they weren’t going to have to vote on anything connected with Obamacare.
Outside groups have spent tens of millions of dollars on TV ads urging viewers to call their Member of Congress or Senator to vote for or against whatever bill would ultimately come before them. Nothing of substance – because their couldn’t know what the substance would be. All political – because they are locked, by their donors, into their narrow political lane.
The biggest losers, as usual, are the people who have the softest voices, the shortest reach, the least influence.
The small business owners who will still have to provide health insurance that they can’t afford and their employees may never use.
The working poor for whom high deductibles (averaging $12,393 for families enrolled in a bronze plan, according to CNBC), and high premiums ($4,200 per year), mean many will continue to pay for insurance that they cannot afford and will never be able to use. They are, effectively, self-insured and worse off than before Obamacare was ever adopted.
Stop with the high fives about the health care bill. Nobody won.
Mr. Galen is a veteran political strategist and communications consultant. He blogs at www.Mullings.com.