Friday, February 24, 2017

The smartest Republican tactician I've seen thinks repeal-and-replace won't happen

John Boehner.  I've never been shy in my praise for the guy.  When he was, um, sacked, he was the unfortunate victim of circumstances beyond his control.  I had written, in advance, that his Speakership couldn't possibly be stable.  Short version:  extreme polarization and divided government made normal legislation pointless during his reign.  That stripped the legislative agenda down to items that avoided "reversion points" like government shutdowns and debt ceiling breaches, but a bunch of people in his own caucus actually thought those "reversion points" were kind of OK.  Boehner referred to these people as "knuckleheads."  The problem was that if Boehner wanted to avoid these calamities (which he did), he had to split his own party, rather than the normal task of keeping his party unified.  That was an intrinsically unstable leadership position.  So, when he was... sacked, it was neither a surprise nor his fault.  In fact, I thought that he did remarkably well given the constraints on him.  Without Boehner, we really might have had a debt ceiling breach back in 2011, and maybe a couple more times.  Time and again, Boehner saved all our asses.  A smart guy who was always in a difficult position.

I often likened him to Burgess Meredith from that Twilight Zone episode, "Time Enough At Last."  All he wanted was to be Speaker.  When he finally got it, it was with a caucus filled with knuckleheads.  Kind of like those broken glasses.

Anyway, Boehner now says repeal-and-replace won't happen.  Caveat emptor:  This is quintessential Politico.  Ask an insider because insiders know the real deal.  As a general rule, I kind of think that Politico is borderline trash.  Insiders give good quotes, but they are frequently morons.  The knuckleheads who drove Boehner from office are insiders too.  Here's my favorite gem from Rep. Ted Yoho (R- where else?, FL), knucklehead extraordinaire.  On not raising the debt ceiling:  "I think personally, it would bring stability to the world markets."  Yup, that's some real insider knowledge right there, buddy.  You begin to see my problem with the Politico model of just asking insiders.

So why do I care that Boehner calls bullshit on the repeal-and-replace thing?  Because Boehner, more than anybody else, knows what can and cannot get through the tangled mess of the congressional Republican majority.  Republicans have spent seven years talking about replacing Obamacare without actually specifying a replacement.  I strongly suspect Boehner at least tried to do something.  And if he did, he failed.  And if he couldn't do it, I wouldn't put much stock in anyone else's ability.

Like I said, I pretty much think Boehner was one of the smartest Republican tacticians we have seen.  His opinion carries some weight with me.  How much?  I've been pretty wishy-washy on this for a while.  This edges me ever-so-slightly away from repeal.

Remember, Collins, Murkowski and Paul have all said that they won't vote for a repeal without a simultaneous replacement.  There are 52 Senate Republicans, so they can only lose two votes on the replacement.  If they lose more than two votes on the replacement in the Senate, the replacement can't pass.  If the replacement can't pass, they lose at least three votes on the repeal in the Senate, and the repeal fails.  Obamacare stays.

What's going to happen?  I don't know.  Donald Trump is President.  He had never held elected office before, nor served in the military, but he had been involved in professional wrestling and appeared in porn, just like President Camacho in Idiocracy.  I don't know what's possible anymore.  The Onion has been reading like real news, as for example with this gem about how the FBI is nervous about Trump getting access to classified information.  In real life, the CIA is withholding information from Trump, according to the Wall Street Journal.  When The Onion reads like the Wall Street Journal and the real President has a resume like the President in Idiocracy, all bets are off.


  1. Doesn't it suck to be a political scientist and be reduced to saying "Fuck, I dunno" all because the GOP is dysfunctional?