Friday, April 21, 2017

Reviving an Obamacare repeal?!

As you may have read, the House is trying to revive a repeal-and-replace plan, based on a rough outline of a deal between the Freedom Caucus and the somewhat more moderate "Tuesday Group."  I won't get into the details because they don't matter.  Remember that the basic mechanics of haven't changed.  If the last vote had to be canceled because the Freedom Caucus wasn't on board, then there isn't anything that can pass both the House and the Senate because passing the House requires satisfying the far-right Freedom Caucus, and getting them means losing Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and a few more in the Senate, probably including Rob Portman, given that he signed a letter indicating that he couldn't abide the Medicaid cuts in the previous House version.  Collins, Murkowski, Portman and the other cosignatories of his letter won't be on board with a Freedom Caucus-approved House plan, and if the Freedom Caucus won't vote for Collins-Cassidy, that's it.  Obamacare stays.  Obamacare remains unless either the Freedom Caucus moves left, or Collins and her group move right.  The Freedom Caucus isn't moving left, and we aren't hearing so much as a peep from Collins, who might be leaving the Senate and running for Governor of Maine, taking away any threat of retaliation if she refuses to yield.

So, why are the House Republicans now trying to revive a bill?

1)  Trump.  Trump is staring down the end of this silly "100 days" thing, and recognizing the fact that he has no legislative accomplishments to show for it.  Yes, that makes him a failure.  The 100 day period doesn't really mean anything, but it will lead to some news coverage that he won't like, and Trump really only cares about how he is covered in the news.  (And SNL...).  If Congress isn't even working on healthcare, he'll look even worse.

2)  Not everyone in Congress understands just how deadlocked the situation is.  By short-circuiting the normal committee hearings, the Republicans short-circuited normal deliberations which would have revealed the internal divisions within the party.  The failed/canceled vote was a shock to the party because they didn't bother with normal politicking.  At least now there are deliberations between caucuses.  That is no substitute for actual committee work, but they have at least learned a lesson, and they think they can change the outcome.  Give them a higher probability of success in the House when the Tuesday Group and the Freedom Caucus agree, although...

3)  We have a bicameral legislature, but there isn't a lot of cross-chamber discussion.  Mostly, Representatives talk to Representatives, and Senators talk to Senators, and since the biggest problem for Republicans is that the Senate can't pass a House bill, and the House can't pass a Senate bill, most of the people involved don't have a clue what the real problem for them is.  So, they've lost sight of what they actually need to do.

4)  This is still theater.  As I have been saying all along, what Republicans would do if they really wanted to affect policy is a series of small-bore bills.  Repeal the employer mandate.  Repeal the medical device tax.  That type of thing.  One at a time, each of these is manageable, probably somewhat bipartisan, a public relations win, and a way to manage expectations.  Why haven't they done so?



Fear that someone would come along and accuse them of being Vichy Republicans.

Republicans are stuck, though.  They are trapped into continually "trying" to pass bills that can't pass, and not engaging in the normal legislative process.


  1. Party brand (which is really #4).

    They're probably trying to get the House to pass it, knowing it will die in the Senate and not caring, because they can just blame the Senate. Hell, they'll blame Democrats for filibustering. I'm sure Mitch McConnell will oblige and go on TV and blame the Democrats for not voting for it.

    1. I originally thought that should make it comparatively easy for the House to pass something. Then again, what the GOP really needs is for this thing to just go away. They can't pass anything, the leaders know it, and the longer it drags on, the more that draws attention to both the party's inability to do anything, and the leaders' inability to square the circle. Pulling the vote was supposed to be a quick death.

    2. But the Freedom Caucus needed a way to prove that they weren't RINOs. So, they needed something to hate. That'll be the AHCA.
      The American Freedom and Fuck Obama Heathiness Act won't be some cuck bill. It would also permit people to pay for their health care by shooting a random black guy in the street and taking his spirit. There can be only one.

    3. I call bullshit. You need a sword for that to work. What the hell is the matter with your reference-fu today?