The votes are there, if you believe when politicians have said and done in the past, but they just can’t materialize when it really matters. At least that’s what we’re led to believe by the sheer numbers – a majority in the House and Senate. But numbers don’t matter when spines are a rarity.
The Republican failures so far on ridding the country of Obamacare are the stuff of fiction, though any publisher would sent that manuscript back with a note saying it was too absurd to be believable. While fiction can be toned down, reality can’t.
The reality of victory was the bluff too many Republicans in Washington thought would never be called. Talking a good game is easy; keeping your word should be easy too. In Washington, nothing that should be easy ever is.
When the latest plan to “repeal and replace” Obamacare went down in flames on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did what he should have done months ago, what Speaker Paul Ryan should have done in the House months ago too, and offered up a straight repeal vote.
Republicans never should have promised to “replace” something they argued should not be done in the first place. This, of course, would’ve required Republicans to believe in the conservative principle they’ve professed for the last 7 years, and as we learned on Tuesday, many do not.
When the latest replacement plan imploded, McConnell announced, “in the coming, days the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care.”
To that, I say: excellent.
Yes, it’s a little late, but better late than never.
Then reality hit again.
No sooner had McConnell released his statement than 3 “Republican” Senators announced they couldn’t vote for exactly what they’d voted for just 2 years ago.
When Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), and Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) said they wouldn’t vote for what they’d voted for before that effectively killed repeal. At least for now.
While that tripod of failure is responsible for this round of failure, many started pointing the blame in the direction of leadership. There is no doubt that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell leave a lot to be desired in the conservative department, it’s important to remember one thing: there really isn’t anyone else to do those jobs.
Ryan didn’t want to be Speaker of the House, he had to be sold on the idea. Would those calling for his head rather have John Boehner back? Who else could get the votes of a majority of the Republican caucus?
Having a majority of Republicans in the House does not mean there is a majority of conservatives. If there is an untapped leader out there the rules of the House allow for them to lead without being elected Speaker.
A discharge petition is available to everyone in the House, which can force a vote on any bill by simply getting a majority of Members to sign on in support of it. If there is a leader out there among the GOP majority who can bring together 218 Congressmen on a conservative bill, now is the time.
In the Senate, who else could be Majority Leader? McConnell isn’t exactly conservative, a master communicator, or a compelling speaker. But who else is there? I’d love to see Mike Lee or Rand Paul in charge, but with a caucus that includes the 3 Senators who won’t vote for something they supported 2 years ago because it has a chance of passing, there’s no chance a principled conservative would be chosen as leader.
Republicans promised they’d unburden the nation of the mistake of federal control over health insurance if only voters would give them the majority and the White House. Well, they did. And like the dog that caught the car, those Republicans have no idea what to do next.
They wanted it, they got it, and they can’t bring themselves to do what they swore they would. Makes you wonder what else they were lying about, and how much longer voters will give them a pass.
The idea of having Democrats control Congress again is uniquely unappealing, but the Supreme Court aside, it appears the only difference between that and what we have now is Democrats would at least be more honest about the awful ideas they’re willing to embrace. That’s something, I guess…