What’s the old quote? God helps invalids, small children, and the United States of America?
There’s another one, which came courtesy of Winston Churchill: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.”
Somewhere between those two old chestnuts is where we are in the aftermath of the American Health Care Act — otherwise known as Ryancare — being pulled by House Speaker Paul Ryan when it was clear there simply wouldn’t be enough votes to pull it to passage.
That failure has already been thrown around as a major blow to the Donald Trump administration, and Trump validated this critique over the weekend with an ill-advised tweet: “Democrats are smiling in DC that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood and Ocare!”
If anybody in Trump’s White House suggested such a tweet (there were rumors it was Reince Priebus’s work), a firing is warranted. Because those Republicans in the Freedom Caucus and the conservative organizations undergirding them who killed the AHCA have done Trump, the GOP, even Ryan and the House GOP leadership and the country at large a favor. We can now start over and get back to first principles where health care is concerned.
This was, for some reason, not possible a month ago.
Let’s remember that in 2015 not only did the House pass but the Senate also passed an Obamacare repeal bill. It went all the way to President Obama’s desk, before Obama vetoed it.
We now have ample reason to suspect that the decision not to revisit that 2015 legislation came, as Hot Air’s Taylor Millard suggested, from the fact that the leadership never wanted to repeal Obamacare — or, perhaps more to the point, were terrified of the political ramifications of doing so.
But with the AHCA now on the scrap-heap, those fears and that conventional wisdom can be cast aside.
The way is clear for the Republican leadership now to do what they promised and repeal Obamacare. Replace it? What for?
The idea that Congress will design a Washington-centric health care system with a prayer of effectiveness runs counter to not only conservative principles but our national experience — and that’s putting it mildly. The Washington-centric health-care systems we already have are the cause of the dislocation in our health-care markets, and between them — the VA, Medicare, and Medicaid — they’ve proven government healthcare sucks in America every bit as much as it does in Venezuela, the U.K., and Red China.
If you’re a conservative, you’re supposed to be against such ideas. Taking on the charge to build a better Rube Goldberg contraption for 320 million people than the Democrats did won’t fit in that box.
Ryan said when the CBO panned his plan by claiming it would put 24 million Americans off the insurance rolls that the verdict was better than expected. Nobody in the leadership team bothered to drive home the point that the vast majority of those 24 million people would be uninsured because they’d prefer to be uninsured than waste money on bad products the government currently sees fit to force them to buy. Why? Who knows. Perhaps out of fear.
Well, Speaker Ryan and President Trump and whoever else might be listening, your worst fears have come true — you can’t get a majority for passing a Republican redesign of Obamacare the CBO projects won’t be substantially more popular than the original recipe. So, what now?
Perhaps just repeal the damn thing, with an effective date a year and a half (or so) away to give the market an opportunity to prepare, and announce that from now on you’re out of the business of running the medical system from Washington. Tell the folks from now on you will only pass bills on health care containing specific tweaks to the system to free the market — allowing people to buy group insurance outside of their employment, for example, or facilitating an interstate health market, or promoting health savings accounts, especially for young people, or doing something to equalize tax treatment between individual purchasers of health insurance and the employer-based market. Pass those or something like them INDIVIDUALLY. Stop trying to change the world all at once.
And once you repeal the damn thing, you will likely be shocked at the votes you shake loose on the other side.
There were never going to be any Democrats supporting the AHCA. Democrats like Obamacare, and thus their default position is going to be a status quo position. You don’t need Democrats to repeal Obamacare; you proved that in 2015. So repeal it and change the status quo back to something that looks like the system pre-Obamacare which 85 percent of the country thought was fine. Democrats didn’t think it was fine, though — present them with specific improvements to be weighed against a status quo of which they don’t approve, and some of them will find value in them.
The failure of the AHCA doesn’t kill the GOP, and it doesn’t kill Trump, and it doesn’t kill Ryan. Obamacare will fail, just as Trump predicted, and it is not Trump’s, Ryan’s, or the GOP’s fault when it does. That was true before Ryancare was cooked up and presented to an unwilling Congress, and it’s still true. The mistakes that have been made in the past few weeks are only fatal, if they’re allowed to be.
Get up, dust yourself off, and do better. Focus on the promises which got you where you are, and fulfill those. And then stop, and for the most part, get out of the way. You’ll be shocked at how much better that works for you than trying to put the federal government in charge.