Via CNN, I think this is a strategic bit of alarmism by a House conservative, Mo Brooks, to try to light a fire under grassroots ObamaCare opponents. He doesn’t really believe that Republicans in Congress scare so easily that getting screamed at by liberals for an hour at a townhall will undo seven years of repeal fever. Does he? And … is he right to? This is, after all, the GOP we’re talking about. They went from 35 years of Reaganism to Trumpism in the span of about nine months.
There’s a warning here too for Trump, who’s been keeping a lower-than-expected profile on repeal lately.
“I’ll tell you, Toni, there are a, in my opinion, a significant number of congressmen who are being impacted by these kinds of protests and their spine is a little bit weak,” the Alabama congressman said in an interview on “The Morning Show with Toni & Gary” on WBHP 800 Alabama radio. “And I don’t know if we’re going to be able to repeal Obamacare now because these folks who support Obamacare are very active, they’re putting pressure on congressman and there’s not a counter-effort to steal the spine of some of these congressmen in tossup districts around the country.”
Brooks continued, “And you may not even see a vote to repeal Obamacare, you might see something where they call it a repeal but really it’s an amendment. You and I have talked about this before. We need an outright repeal of Obamacare and then whatever’s gonna come after it, fine, let’s have that discussion. But this monstrosity needs to be repealed and right now, in my judgment, we don’t have the votes in Congress to pass a repeal bill, in part because of what these people are doing.”…
“Quite frankly, I don’t know that this administration supports a full repeal,” he said. “To the contrary, the president has expressed support for some of the provisions that are in Obamacare. And if that’s the case, if that ends up being the administration’s position, then that is not a repeal of Obamacare, that’s an amendment to Obamacare.”
That bit about a “counter-effort” is a nudge to conservatives to show up at townhalls and support their congressmen, but I think it’s also a nudge to Trump to hit the trail in districts he won last year and make the case for the new Republican plan. After all, the trendlines right now are … not good:
That’s not the first poll lately to show support for ObamaCare climbing now that it’s on the brink of repeal. I think that has less to do with fondness for the law on the merits than simple status-quo bias: People prefer the devil they know to the one they don’t, especially when Republicans have thus far been incapable of even presenting an alternative due to disagreements within the caucus. But then, this all goes to Brooks’s point that the right, starting with Trump, needs to work harder to hold off the forces that prefer the status quo. The question is, would a big push by Trump himself help or hurt that effort? His job approval average isn’t nearly as bad as the worst polls have claimed, but he’s stuck at 45 percent right now and no pollster except Rasmussen has had him above 50. Even so, he’s doubtless the most popular (and by light years the most famous) Republican in the country. If they don’t send him out to rally support, who could they send? It’s Trump or bust.
Here’s Brooks on ObamaCare, followed by what may be the single most surreal moment of the townhalls to date — a seven-year-old trying to put Tom Cotton on the spot with a question about the border wall.