It’s a day later, and the dust has settled. President Donald Trump and Paul Ryan have failed, the latter admitting that Obamacare is the law of the land. The President of the United States, and the Speaker of the House, arguably two of the most powerful men in American politics, teamed up to get a job done (the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare) and they fumbled the job. But they are not alone. They had help.
Team Republican has lived for the termination of President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act. Tea Party Members and traditional republicans alike ran for election and re-election based on some version of a repeal and replace platform. They had years to work together, to caucus, to run the numbers, and to do what ever was necessary to get the job done.
They also control the White House and the two Houses of Congress. How is failure possible in that scenario of near total domination? But they didn’t make it happen. The Republican Party is simply to fractured, to ideologically disparate, to complete this task alone. And the democrats are certainly not inclined to help out.
At the core of the problem lies the Freedom Caucus, that extremist group of republicans in the House of Representatives that wanted a more complete repeal of Obamacare. They simply don’t believe the government should be in the business of offering, providing or facilitating health care. In their world view, that’s a private business matter.
Even though Ryan and Trump removed significant kinds of medical coverage from the proposed replacement plan, in order to appease Freedom Caucus Members, no agreement was possible. Ryan and the Administration simply didn’t have enough votes, and in the end, the bill was pulled, with no plans to try again. In fact, President Trump appears to be setting his sites on tax reform, for his next big project.
This has weakened the Trump Administration politically. This has weakened Paul Ryan politically. This reflects poorly on Donald Trump himself, who was elected as a consummate deal maker who will soon make America “tired of winning.” And he campaigned on a platform of repeal and replace. So it’s no surprise that President Trump is shifting the blame. He even had the audacity to blame Nancy Pelosi, and the democrats, for the debacle. Is it logical to blame the other team for winning? No, politics, and life, simply don’t work that way.
Photo: By Caleb Smith; Office of the Speaker of the House [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons