The Death of the GOP Health Care Plan
On Friday, March 24th, the Republicans placed their first piece of signature legislation on the table, and slit its throat. After seven years of fiercely trying to overturn Obamacare, the GOP released a plan that was so toxic that it would yield nothing more than a cancerous effect to either donors or constituents, depending on demographics.
As far as being poisonous to their donors, the Koch brothers (who are the notorious king-makers of our current government) released a threat that summarily stated that they'd back the congressmen who voted 'No' on the bill, and spend their considerable political war-chest on destroying the careers of those who cast a 'Yes' vote. That's no small statement. Politicians suckle at the teats of the Kochs with feverish desperation, realizing that that's been the decades-long strategy for campaign success.
The second fear against the American Health Care Act is one delivered by a voter base. If your constituency has six teeth and nine thumbs between them, then health care may be something that they take the time to concern themselves with. Many of the counties that went red in 2016 are largely poor and rural. They would've been hit the hardest by the tax hikes and benefit cuts of the new health care act, and voting in favor of that is a bad look for re-election for the congressmen from those districts. It's a classic rock and a hard place. Do you follow the president off of the ledge to show party unity, or do you cast the most obvious vote to favor the people who elected you?
The political maneuvering may be something the left should take note of as reference material for the future. There is some chance that someone in Trump's ear pointed out that there weren't enough votes to pass the thing. Trump stated in his concession that “we had no Democrat support.” Well, no shit. But this shouldn't have been detrimental given the Republican majority in every branch of government. The real problem was that not enough conservatives were on board with this change in our health care program. Some thought it wasn't enough, some thought that it was too much, but the lack of support was there nonetheless. So, rather then sending their own party to the slaughter over a catch 22, the Republicans just canceled the vote altogether. Trump said that the 'plan b' for the GOP health care plan was, essentially, to do nothing and let Obamacare fail so that they could blame the Democrats. In the absolute and obvious absence of ability to come up with anything better, this may be their most solid plan.
Trump told Congress that Friday's vote was a 'now or never situation.' He said that they either needed to pass the new health care bill, or the party would move on to other things. Could it be? Will they actually focus on something else? There's a deep enough well for the right to draw from, after all. Conservatives need to conflate pro-life ideology with the desire to smash any and all maternity benefits, figure out 101 ways to perfectly satisfy every pipeline that's laid in their quivering hands by the “seemingly dangerous, but misunderstood” oil industry, and decide where all of the gays are gonna pee. They're a busy bunch.
Like a teenage boy with a topless selfie, it's unlikely that Republicans will be able to keep their hands chaste and pure on this one. They've been running hard at the ACA's back door since 2010, and it's difficult to imagine that they'll leave it alone now.
But, for the time being, it looks like 26 million people aren't going to lose their coverage, preexisting conditions will still get protections, and taxes won't be thrown (even more) grossly out of balance. The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, but it's popularity has surged in the past few weeks. According to a recent FOX News poll, Obamacare has a 50% approval rating, while the same poll had Trump at a 43% approval rating. It's gonna be hard for the Comander-in-Tweet to overturn a bill with a 7% advantage over his own performance, and I'm sure that he knows that. He has a lot of motivation to lead his party on to lower hanging fruit, but only time will tell what that means for the American people.