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For seven years, Republicans vowed to repeal Obamacare. Throughout the 2016 campaign and beyond, The Leader vowed to not only repeal but also replace Obamacare with something “great.” All the Republican House had to do was pass a bill, any bill, that they could claim did that, no matter how crummy it really was, and claim victory.
And last week they fucked that up.
Rightbloggers, like every Republican in Washington, rushed to fix the blame on anything other than the highly unpopular pay-or-die model of national health care they still insist, despite the example of nearly every other first-world nation, is the only viable alternative.
The Leader himself, after reflexively blaming the powerless House Democrats, went after House Speaker and fiasco architect Paul Ryan in what he probably thought was a stealthy manner: White House adviser Steve Bannon’s old shop, breitbart.com, claimed “a source close to the president” — possibly named something like Beve Sannon — said “there is only one course of action that should be taken to move past this catastrophe and that is the swift removal of Paul Ryan from the speakership.”
Also The Leader told everyone to watch the Judge Jeanine Pirro show, where she declared — what are the odds? — that Paul Ryan should resign. Will someone powerful next order Ryan to commit ritual suicide? Find out tomorrow on Wheel of Fortune!
Where did things go wrong? Many political observers (and, eventually, The Leader) blamed the Freedom Caucus, those hardcore Republican congressmen who wanted the bill to cover even less than it did and, when their demands weren’t met, blocked it.
But “this didn’t just fail because of the Freedom Caucus!” protested Ben Domenech of the Federalist. “It failed because of moderates too, and centrist minded conservatives like Comstock and Frelinghuysen,” members who balked because they thought the bill offered too little coverage to needful Americans.
In Domenech’s view, voters would only care that the work of The Leader had been allowed to fail — they wouldn’t see any difference between interference by politicians who wanted to protect their coverage, and interference by those who wanted to destroy it.
Other conservatives seemed to feel the same way.
The problem, said John Daniel Davidson at the Federalist, was that the GOP “accepted the underlying premise of Obamacare: the federal government should ensure near-universal health coverage, and it should do so without ‘pulling the rug out from under anyone,’ as Speaker Ryan has said.” Big mistake! Under the AHCA voters would have seen insurers “deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions” — and “arguably, that’s a good thing” [!!] — but the “headlines” would be “all about the ailing Americans who lost their Obamacare coverage because of the Republican plan.”
That’s how people are, I guess — try to help ’em out by ripping a big hole in the safety net, and they get mad at you.
At PJ Media, Michael Walsh blamed Ryan for “insisting that the voters desired ‘Repeal and Replace’ when in fact all anybody wanted was ‘Repeal, full stop’…” Sure, The Leader talked about replacing the bill, but who believes him anymore? Certainly not his closest supporters!
At the Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti asked, “Why the rush to repeal and replace Obamacare?” After all, he said, “it took a year for the Affordable Care Act to be signed into law.”
You may be confused by this, remembering how conservatives complained back in 2010 — or even, earlier this month — that the Obamacare pass-the-bill-to-see-what’s-in-the-bill was rushed into law by heedless Democrats. But Continetti’s view conforms with new conservative conventional wisdom — expressed by GOP Senators Mike Lee and Tom Cotton, among others — that the Obama Democrats took their time while the AHCA Republicans were stampeded.
Some of the brethren engaged in deepthink analyses that brought them close (but, alas, not close enough) to a single-payer epiphany.
At American Thinker, under the headline “Repair Obamacare? Call on Dems to present their plan,” Silvio Canto Jr. proposed, “[Trump] could publicly call on Democrats to present ideas to ‘repair it,’ as they say. Let’s see how many of those ideas are nothing more than huge tax increases or more subsidies.” OK, John Conyers will go first: How about the system most voters say they actually want?
At National Review, Jim Geraghty lamented, “a gigantic lingering problem for any reform effort is that many members of the public have wildly unrealistic expectations about what their health care should be and how much they should pay for it, and no politician in either party has much incentive to be honest about hard truths.” If only someone had the guts to tell them: Put down that IV, chemo is for closers! But then Geraghty reflected:
There’s a strong argument that the entire concept of insurance doesn’t work well for health care, compared to, say, auto insurance.… The way to bring down prices in most markets is supply and demand, but that’s difficult to apply to health-care costs compared to, say, shopping for a plane ticket on Expedia.…
At that point I began to whisper, single payer single payer, as if to telepathically signal him, but then Geraghty spun back and went straight to Hayek in a handbasket: “On paper, we can increase supply, and you’ve seen market forces improve health services not covered by insurance,” he said; “LASIK surgery and plastic surgeries are the most-cited examples.” So let’s do the same thing with heart surgery — who knows what innovations would result at the end of the trail of corpses?
What next? Some conservatives said, “Back to the drawing board — and this time, no bleeding-heart bullshit.” At the Daily Signal, Edmund Haislmaier of the Heritage Foundation proposed “a new bill that takes as its starting point the repeal of those Obamacare provisions that dictate the benefits and design of private insurance plans, and which have driven up coverage costs.” In other words, give paupers plans that cover jack shit.
Also, said his colleague Fred Lucas, The Leader must move on and reassert his authority: “Because so much is about perception, Trump might be able to bounce back from a stinging defeat if his nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is confirmed to the Supreme Court.”
“Trump’s rocky start and the setback of the health care bill might actually serve as ironic catalysts for a presidency that gets stronger and accomplishes more in the long run,” bullshat Steven Hayward at Power Line. After all, he reasoned, Reagan wasn’t doing so great in his early White House days, but when he got shot that “reset Reagan’s honeymoon and allowed his team to regroup on Capitol Hill, ultimately yielding congressional victories in June and August…”
Hayward didn’t recommend The Leader endure assassination as a way of turning things around, but seemed to think something, somehow, would do it for him. Maybe he could get some woman to claim he’d given her the best sex she’d ever had? That’s worked in the past. Or maybe there’s nothing to worry about because this is all just more eleventh-dimensional Leader chess! At least that’s what Scott Adams The Dilbert Guy seemed to think:
With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme.… In the 3D world of persuasion, Trump just had one of the best days any president ever had: He got promoted from Hitler to incompetent. And that promotion effectively defused the Hitler-hallucination bomb that was engineered by the Clinton campaign.… No one wants an incompetent president, but calling the other side a bunch of bumblers is routine politics. We just went from an extraordinary risk (Trump=Hitler) to ordinary politics (The other side=incompetent).…
Maybe you’ll find his thesis clearer in the formal presentation.
It may not matter: Well before this, congressional Republicans and The Leader did plenty to sabotage Obamacare — as The Leader himself recently blabbed — and they may decide to just keep holding its head underwater until it stops thrashing. Given The Leader’s flair for counterfactual defenses, there’s a chance they can get away with that. But after last week? I would no longer call it a sure thing.