Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are Republicans really going to try again on healthcare?

Yesterday, I did a reminder post that the GOP always had an easier path on healthcare, and then, throughout the day, we got rumblings that they might try again.  How seriously should you take these rumblings?

Not very.

1)  Remember that a single bill can't happen.  If Ryan's bill, with all of the concessions that he and Trump made to the Freedom Caucus still couldn't get through the House, then there is nothing that could get both the support of the hardliners in the House and the Senate moderates.  That means nothing can pass in a single bill.  Piecemeal measures?  Sure, but a single replacement?  Nope, and since there are more than two votes against repeal in the Senate without a simultaneous replacement, this can't be done in a single bill.  This is all posturing.

2)  The GOP can't be seen to give up after just a few weeks.  That was one of the many stupid aspects of this process.  Being the party that fights the never-ending fight against Obamacare doesn't work if you have a plan that is revealed to be an utter failure in a few weeks.  Send a few measures to committees.  Have lots of hearings.  That's what they should have done in the first place.  Drag it out.  If the point is the fight, Congress is great at dragging things out interminably.

3)  The committees should have had a say in this from the beginning anyway.  That is where negotiations take place, where the hardliners could duke it out with the moderates, and where they could have figured out from the beginning that a single bill wasn't going to work.  Committees are still where they can figure out what can pass.

4)  Parties are supposed to make sure that the only stuff that gets anywhere near the floor is the stuff that unifies the majority against the minority.  How?  You have to know what your party will support.  In advance.  The committee system, the whip system, all of these can be tools of party leadership, in the right hands.  Paul Ryan has never governed before.  As a condition for accepting the speakership, Boehner had to raise the debt ceiling first so that Ryan wouldn't have any real work to do before the 2016 election.  In the past, I have recommended that everyone read Richard Fenno's Learning to Govern.  It is about the mess after the GOP took control after the 1994 election, unexpectedly.  Nobody knew what they were doing because nobody in the GOP had ever been in the majority, it having been 40 years since the GOP controlled the House.  At least Paul Ryan isn't quite as stupid as Newt Gingrich.  Low bar, but still...  I expect him to get better.

What does all of this mean for healthcare?  In all likelihood, occasional posturing.  Maybe a few small measures.  A real repeal-and-replace?  Fuck no.


  1. Fenno doesn't apply here.

    The simple truth (as you've hit on) is that they just don't fucking care about health care policy, but realized voters did so they used "Obamacare" as a cudgel for a decade. They forced this on themselves; it didn't fail because nobody in the GOP knew how to count votes.

    1. Do you seriously want to argue that incompetence had nothing to do with their failure, or that the incompetence wasn't related to a lack of governing experience?

    2. I know that, given our president, I shouldn't say this, but: #2.

    3. Ryan's incompetence was involved too.

    4. Not disputing that (the "president" line was about saying "#2:" get it? Because our president has one kind of sexual fetish for bathroom activities, he likely has the other! I kill me)

      Just saying that your second statement is what I'm saying: Ryan isn't incompetent because he hasn't been there. The party isn't able to legislate because they don't do that sort of thing. That's what liberals and cucks do.

      They can't get this done because they have no interest in governing. I don't expect it to get better with time. Ryan could be Boehner in terms of skill, it still gets you to the same result: can't legislate with a minority party in charge. And that's what they've got, because the Freedom Caucus is insane, but still close to the center of gravity for the base. So, they can't keep the moderates on big things because, well, that's how they PROVE they are moderate! Leaves them consistently around 190-205 votes.

      The PARTY is incompetent. I'm not sure how we blame Ryan for what's really determined by that fact. We COULD credit Boehner for getting shit done, because he cleared a high hurdle. We can say that Ryan hasn't cleared similar hurdles, but we also have a Trump headwind, and the fact that what they do now matters. We don't have any evidence that Ryan is as good as Pelosi or Boehner. I'm not sure that we have evidence that he's incompetent, though. But, to the extent that he is, I don't think it has anything to do with a lack of experience; it's a bankrupt ideology and party that kills him. I would say that he's incompetent to the extent he believes the shit that comes out of his mouth.

    5. Here's the difference: Boehner recognized the constraints the party placed on him, and responded accordingly. Trying to rush through a bill with no real deliberation and no real committee work, the way Ryan did? That's just incompetence. Will he get better with experience? We'll see. Boehner might not have been able to pass a bill, but he wouldn't have embarrassed himself, the party, and vertebrates more generally like that.

    6. All those steps are useful to make law.

      They are kinda pointless if you're just doing kabuki theater, though.

    7. What if the point of the show is to at least TRY to look competent?