From New York Magazine:
Late last week, Donald Trump revived “repeal and replace” — the GOP’s short-lived plan to kill Obamacare first, and draft a replacement second. GOP senators Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Ben Sasse promptly endorsed this way out of their party’s health-care quagmire.
Most observers saw these developments as threatening Mitch McConnell’s fragile hopes of bridging his caucus’s divide on health-care policy. Politico declared, “Trump further disrupts Obamacare repeal efforts.”
But it now looks like the opposite may prove true: The reemergence of the strategy of repealing Obamacare in one bill, and replacing it in another, might just lay the foundation for the Senate GOP’s grand bargain over health care.
Paul is asking leadership to give conservatives one more chance to register their symbolic opposition to Obamacare, for old time’s sake — and then, immediately pass a “big spending” bipartisan bill that props up the existing law, with moderate Republican and Democratic votes.
It’s hard to imagine a better way for an arch-libertarian — who represents Kentucky — to have his ideological purity and keep his state’s rural hospitals running, too.
Republican senators appear to have irreconcilable disagreements about health-care policy. But that’s only true to the extent that they actually care about health-care policy. It seems possible that what the conservatives really care about is performing rituals of ideological purity — while the moderates just want to avoid throwing hundreds of thousands of their constituents off health insurance for the sake of affirming some lies they sold voters about Obamacare.
If that’s the case, then “pseudo-repeal and bipartisan replace” might be the grand bargain they’ve been searching for.
Why all this agita over the health care bill? From THIS WEEK:
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) admitted at a town hall Wednesday evening that the real reason Republicans weren’t poised and ready to roll out a health-care plan is because they didn’t think they would actually win the White House. “Look, I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win, I think most of my colleagues didn’t, so we didn’t expect to be in this situation,” Toomey said.
President Trump’s unexpected win last November caught Republicans without even a blueprint in hand for how to pass legislation. In contrast, “eight years ago, Democrats had been planning for months for the possibility of full control of Congress and the White House” and had already “held meetings with key health-care industry stakeholders about early thoughts on what would become the Affordable Care Act,” The Washington Post reported.