By any measure, the collapse of the Senate health-care bill represents an epic failure for the Republican Party and a major embarrassment for President Trump. The crusade that animated — and bound — conservatives for seven years proved to be a mirage, an objective without a solution. Power comes with consequences.
There is no way to spin to those who were promised that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed and replaced once Republicans held full power in Washington that what has happened is the fault of forces outside the party. This has been a GOP undertaking from start to finish. It is as though Republicans unknowingly set a trap and then walked into it without having prepared escape routes.
What price, if any, Republicans will pay for this setback will be revealed over the coming months. Perhaps they will be able to move quickly on other priorities — a tax bill being the most appealing now, although not necessarily a slam dunk — and wash away the bitter taste of the health-care debate. That might be the best they can hope for, but there are no guarantees.
The failed promise to repeal and replace Obamacare surely will affect the mood and enthusiasm of the Republican base heading toward 2018. When the Gallup organization asked Americans about the future of the Affordable Care Act recently, 30 percent overall said they favored “repeal and replace,” but 70 percent of Republicans supported that option. GOP lawmakers will have left them empty-handed, perhaps disillusioned. That will energize Democrats even more in their quest to take control of the House in 2018.
The health care bill was doomed from the start. Replacing a flawed plan with an even worse one just isn’t going to please anyone. That new bill that just went died an embarrassingly painful death sounded awful to almost everyone. The really stupid part is that it hurt the Trump base the most.
What does it tell us when the Republicans own the White House and both the House and the Senate and they still can’t get a bill passed? Trump wants to blame the Democrats. Well, math must not be his forte. Maybe the problem lies with the quality of health care the Republicans were proposing.
Here’s a novel idea–keep what’s good about Obamacare and fix the bad parts. Maybe the idea of repealing the whole thing was repugnant to too many Americans. Maybe Democrats and Republicans have to work together and push politics aside.