Senate Republicans clutch at another opportunity to do nothing.
Mitch McConnell no doubt breathed a sigh of relief when John McCain’s surgery gave him an excuse to postpone a vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Now that Senators Rand Paul and Susan Collins have made it abundantly clear that no concession or reasonable argument will persuade them to do the right thing on Obamacare, every remaining GOP Senator has to support BCRA in order to get the bill passed. And it was by no means certain that McConnell had enough votes to accomplish that even with McCain present. Why? The GOP has become the party of poltroons.
This is the party that prosecuted a civil war to preserve the Union and end slavery, the party that overcame decades of Democrat resistance — including that of President Woodrow Wilson — to pass and ratify the Amendment that codified women’s suffrage, the party that produced leaders from Lincoln to Reagan. Where the Hell did that party go? Can it have shrunken into this whining collection of cowards who can’t muster the courage to kill — or even maim — Obamacare, a law that was passed on the basis of corruption and lies, a law on the verge of collapsing and taking U.S. health care down with it?
The worst part of the GOP’s inertia on Obamacare is that it is not merely pusillanimous, it is politically suicidal. Despite phony media polls showing a fictive increase in support for the dysfunctional Democrat “health care reform” law, the majority of the electorate wants it fully or partially repealed. As Guy Benson reported two weeks ago, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll found that 44 percent want it repealed, 42 percent want major changes, and only 11 percent want to leave the law alone. And the voters will punish the Republicans in 2018 if they do nothing. As John Fund reports at NRO:
There is polling evidence that a failure to vote for at least an overhaul and partial repeal of Obamacare is politically riskier than voting for it. The Club for Growth, a free-market advocacy group, has taken a poll showing two things: 1) General-election voters will vote against incumbent Senate Democrats in swing states if they continue to support Obamacare, and 2) if Republicans fail to address Obamacare, many GOP and independent voters will fail to show up and support Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.
Therein lies the infuriating irony of Republican dithering. Many GOP Senators are nervous about the propaganda that has appeared in the “news” media to the effect that the voters will punish them if they meddle with Obamacare. In reality, the reverse is true. Inaction on PPACA after seven years of pledges to do something about the law that has been driving up premiums since it was enacted is the one thing that could cost them their Senate majority. If the GOP keeps its promise on Obamacare, the Democrats will do very poorly in the midterms. Just yesterday, Clinton creature James Carville put it thus:
The Senate is very, very difficult.… The problem in the Senate is we have a large number of seats we have to hold in states that Donald Trump carried. Indiana, Missouri, you know, places like that we have to hold seats.… The only places where we have an opportunity for pick up are, you know, Nevada is pretty good. After that Arizona is less good, then you’re down to Texas and Alabama, and for Democrats to win the Senate back, they have to pick up three seats.
One would think that, in such an environment, Republicans would be anxious to demonstrate that they were honest about neutering Obamacare, to show that they can govern even with an obstructionist Democrat party intent on thwarting the will of the voters who gave Congress and the White House to the GOP. Instead, the Republicans appear to be on the verge of squandering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do some real good for themselves and for the nation as whole. And repairing the damage done by Obamacare will accomplish just that. As HHS Secretary Tom Price said yesterday:
Fact of the matter is that the current system, the ACA, Obamacare, whatever you want to call it, is failing the individuals in the individual and small group market. We’ve counties across this country that only have one choice. Almost 40 percent of the counties only have one choice of an insurer. Next year, there will be dozens of counties that don’t have an insurer.… we have premiums that are sky-rocketing. We’ve got deductibles that are so high that individuals have coverage but they don’t have care. This is a system that is crying out for reform and revision.
Moreover, the voters are crying out for relief and, if the gutlessness of the GOP prevents them from getting it, there will be a heavy price to pay. Americans will forgive a lot from our politicians, but we will not reward cowardice. If the Republicans arrive at November of 2018 having done nothing about Obamacare, the result will make them nostalgic for the “good old days of 2006 and 2008.” The GOP has majorities in both houses of Congress and a President with a pen in his hand. There are no excuses left. They must pass some version of BCRA or be written off by the voters as the Poltroon Party.