Our story so far: Republicans spent years vilifying Obamacare and promising to repeal and replace it at their first opportunity. Then that opportunity came, but they still couldn’t agree on the “replace” part, so they suggested something called repeal-and-delay: repeal Obamacare now, and work on a replacement plan later. But that turned out to be pretty unpopular even among Republicans, who naturally wanted to know what they were going to get before Obamacare was dismantled. So Republican leaders went back to the drawing board and tried to draw up a replacement plan. So far this has been a dismal failure, for the obvious reason that even a mediocre replacement plan will cost a lot of money, and they don’t want to spend a lot of money.
What to do? The Wall Street Journal reports that repeal-and-delay is back:
Republican leaders are betting that the only way for Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act is to set a bill in motion and gamble that fellow GOP lawmakers won’t dare to block it.
Party leaders are poised to act on the strategy as early as this week, after it has become obvious they can’t craft a proposal that will carry an easy majority in either chamber. Lawmakers return to Washington Monday after a week of raucous town halls in their districts that amplified pressure on Republicans to forge ahead with their health-care plans.
Republican leaders pursuing the “now or never” approach see it as their best chance to break through irreconcilable demands by Republican centrists and conservatives over issues ranging from tax credits to the future of Medicaid.
There you have it. It has “become obvious” they can’t craft a decent replacement plan now, so instead they’re going to try to convince everyone that they can craft a replacement plan later. This is obvious nonsense, but they’re just going to bull ahead and dare anyone to stop them.
This is extremely high-risk-high-reward. First of all, they might just lose. All it takes is three defections in the Senate. Second, they can’t repeal everything, and a partial repeal will send the individual insurance market into chaos. Third, President Trump has already gone on record opposing this strategy, and he’s not a guy who likes to publicly back down. And fourth, they’re leaving themselves open for the mother of all Democratic attacks. I don’t think Democrats are nearly as divided as the press would have us believe, but if Republicans go ahead with this plan it will unite the party instantly. Politically, it would be a godsend for Democrats.
The desperation Republicans are showing here is remarkable. They are all but admitting that they flatly can’t pass a health care plan that’s worth the paper it’s printed on. This is not an auspicious start to their plan to show the country how great things can be if they’d just put the GOP in charge once and for all.