I’m a conservative Republican who hopes that the Senate GOP Obamacare repeal fails next week. Graham-Cassidy is a mistake. Republicans are trying to fulfill a promise that makes no political sense in a climate where deals we can’t refuse are what matter. This bill is not one of those deals.
GOP has no health care deal
The time to replace Obamacare was before it passed. Now we have a law that protects Americans who were left out in the cold by insurance companies, HIPAA, and other protections that didn’t work. Health insurance is something Americans depend on and worry about losing. That makes us easy prey for Congress, which can dole it out or threaten to take it away. It’s no surprise lawmakers are baiting us. The problem for Republicans is that we already have a deal we can’t refuse and they aren’t the ones who gave it to us.
This is the worst time imaginable to break that health care deal no matter who struck it. Repeal and replace is promise and principle bred from desperation, not smart lawmaking. What conservative Republicans miss is that this isn’t just about health care. It’s about a lot of other deals we can’t refuse that are in the works.
Mark my words: if the GOP pulls off the ACA repeal it will start a domino effect that will doom conservatism as we know it.
Of all the deals we can’t refuse, this was the best
Believe it or not, saving Obamacare will also save the GOP.
Mitch McConnell missed the point when he talked about doing what his party promised:
They [Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy] rolled out a health-care proposal of their own last week. It would repeal the pillars of Obamacare and replace that failed law’s failed approach with a new one: allowing states and governors to actually implement better health-care ideas by taking more decision-making power out of Washington.1
They would make better ideas if they could, but they can’t and they won’t. We tried that before. It didn’t work, so Obama made a deal Americans couldn’t refuse. Now we’re stuck with it.
The difference between a good Democrat and a good Republican could hinge on the loss of insurance coverage or skyrocketing premiums for a pre-existing condition. If the Graham-Cassidy boondoggle passes, that kind of fallout will kick Republicans off of their Capitol Hill throne a lot faster than it took them to attempt this incredibly foolish effort. Did they forget that Donald Trump won the White House because of the Electoral College, not the popular vote?
The problem isn’t that the ACA doesn’t need repair or that’s it’s not fundamentally flawed. The issue is that Obamacare was a deal we can’t refuse: guaranteed issue health insurance. That’s a big deal unless you are a House or Senate politician with a salary larger than what most Americans make and a government employee health policy.
A deal even the GOP can’t refuse
The problem is a lot bigger than health care. Look at what happened with DACA. No one wants to say no to children, even the ones who are illegal and aren’t children anymore. Republicans seem almost as eager as Democrats to keep the DACA boat afloat. Why? Obama made a deal with illegals the GOP can’t refuse.
More deals we can’t refuse and will never get rid of
More deals we can’t refuse are just waiting to be passed. All it will take is some ill-advised tinkering with our health care laws to help them gain entry.
Deals like what?
Let’s start with free higher education. That idea has been quietly sitting on the waiting list for a long time. It just needs an opportunity, like Republicans losing their congressional majority.
When free college is done we can refix Obamacare by implementing the single-payer government health plan that Bernie Sanders is hawking and Democrats started with well before they created the monstrosity we are stuck with now.
Wages? How far can we push the federal minimum wage to appease Democratic voters?
Immigration reform? Democrats will pass an amnesty bill faster than they passed Obamacare.
Tax reform? Republicans won’t pull this one off either, but rest assured Democrats will pass their version if they ever get a chance just like they pushed through their Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It won’t take too many voters angry over losing their health insurance coverage and subsidies to give them that chance.
Years after Democrats seal their deal with America we will look back and wonder how all of this came cascading down. The answer will be obvious: conservative politicians made good on a promise without a solution to go with it.
Obamacare can save the GOP
Have Republicans ever made us a deal we couldn’t refuse? If they have, I can’t think of what it is. The problem with GOP deals is that many Americans can refuse them. They can’t stop them from passing, but voters can make sure that there aren’t enough Republicans left in Congress to pass more laws they don’t like.
Consider this: in 2018 the GOP loses the House. In 2020 we lose the White House and the Senate. Democrats make more deals we can’t refuse that appeal to our changing population, deals like DACA and the ACA that are too good to be true and we can’t get rid of.
Republicans need to get off their dead backsides and look to the future. If they allow this to happen they won’t be in it.
If we say goodbye to Obamacare we say goodbye to conservatism.
UPDATE September 23, 2017: John McCain does the GOP a favor
Conservatives tend to view John McCain with a politically jaundiced eye. Is he a RINO, a Democrat in Republican garb?
Not this week. McCain just did us a big favor. The senator declined to support Graham-Cassidy:
We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009. If we do so, our success could be as short-lived as theirs when the political winds shift, as they regularly do.2
McCain is absolutely right. Are McConnell and company listening?
UPDATE September 26, 2017: whether they were listening doesn’t matter. Senate health care expired today, at least for now. Can Republicans cook up a deal we can’t refuse on tax reform? That’s about all they have left, unless they plan on buying lots of bricks and mortar for Trump’s wall.
1. “Graham-Cassidy: Better Health-Care Ideas By Taking Decision-Making Out Of Washington.” Mitch McConnell. September 19, 2017. https://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/pressreleases?ID=AF7EE58D-C728-4A09-89A3-6796D49B8E01, retrieved September 21, 2017.
2. “Senator John McCain on Health Care Reform” John McCain. September 22, 2017. https://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=1D7F89BB-FF93-41A5-85B8-C87E3CCCC4CE, retrieved September 23, 2017.
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