So, after seven years, and with 60 or so prior votes to repeal or alter Obamacare, when it really matters, Trump and Ryan come up short, and are forced to pull the bill seeking passage of the American Health Care Act (which would replace Obamacare). It is important to realize that this legislative failure does not represent a change of heart on behalf of the Republicans. To the contrary, the majority of the Republicans who refused to support it did so not because they wanted to preserve health care for Americans, but because they didn’t think it gutted the Affordable Care Act enough. Not because they wanted to provide health care for more Americans, or that they were disturbed by how the bill would hurt millions of people, but because IT DIDN’T HURT ENOUGH. Let that sit in for a minute. Because it did not hurt enough.
This is the world we are now in — the Republicans have control of the Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court, yet they are unable to legislate on their signature issue. The failure is not due (as President Trump wants people to believe) to the obstruction of the Democrats. Instead, it is the result of a growing ideological divide that exists within the Republican Party itself. We seem to be in a bit of a time vortex, as philosophically, many in the Republican Party seem to have gone back in time to the Lochner era of the early 20th century, that time when the “liberty of contract” and substantive economic due process ruled American politics, where any notion of legislating for the pubic welfare was verboten. A time where laissez faire ruled the day, which reined until it was ended by Roosevelt’s New Deal. In the Lochner era, not only would health care not be a federal issue, it would not be a matter of public concern. Private forces in the market would rule the day. This is what, ultimately, the “Freedom caucus” wants–a complete gutting of federal programs regulating health, safety, and general welfare. This is the battle raging in the GOP today.
As a result, in many ways the Democrats only had to ensure that their caucus remained united in opposition to Trumpcare and then they were able to grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the show, watching the Republicans eat their own. The end result is that Obamacare lives for another day, and the GOP has been dealt its first major defeat (at its own hands) in the age of Trump. The great deal maker, the master negotiator, the king of art of the deal, who apparently lobbied 120 Republicans this week, failed miserably.
But now that the drama over killing Obamacare is over, maybe we can move on, and get serious about investigating the collusion of the Trump campaign and Russia in the election, and get the impeachment show on the road?