Game over: GOP pulls Graham-Cassidy health-care reform bill

The game’s not really over. As long as Republicans maintain total control of government, they’ll keep trying, very reluctantly. Imagine the panic on the Hill next summer if Trump’s polling is bad and it looks like the House is destined to flip in the midterms. They’ll have to pass repeal just to get it on the books before Pelosi takes over and blows up the entire effort. Repeal’s not dead.

But … it’ll be resting for awhile.

I’m surprised they pulled the bill before polls closed today in Alabama. Roy Moore gets a bit of extra ammo in the last few hours to encourage voters to throw out the do-noting bums in the GOP establishment.

The Senate will not vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal Obamacare, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republicans in a closed-door meeting, three sources told CNN…

The calculations for health care are agonizing for McConnell. Putting a controversial bill on the floor without the votes exposes members to political fallout and attack ads. Many Republicans haven’t even taken a public position on Graham-Cassidy, a bill that the Congressional Budget Office said Monday would drastically cut Medicaid and lead to millions of people not having health insurance compared to the status quo…

On Capitol Hill, there are rumblings among lawmakers about ways to keep trying on repeal if this week ends with defeat (the current legislative vehicle that Republicans are using to move a health care bill without any Democratic support expires after Saturday).

One idea — which hardly enjoys widespread support at the moment — is to tie both health care and tax reform to the 2018 budget.

Trying to do health care reform and tax reform at the same time is a recipe for a clusterfark even more unholy than the past few months of “repeal and replace” have been in the Senate. Plus, let’s be real: How many Senate Republicans want to take another run at this? They’ll have no choice, as I say, if it looks like the House is trending blue but they get nothing but grief from trying. If they had a popular bill cooking anywhere on the legislative stove, they would have served it by now. As it is, they’re stuck between repeatedly trying and failing to thread the needle on 50 votes, with each failure pissing off Republican voters more and more, and actually succeeding in passing some lackluster bill, which will piss off everyone else. They’re in a no-win bind of their own making. And Democrats are enjoying the hell out of taunting them over it:

There’ll be plenty of time for a team huddle and another run at a terrible, party-damaging repeal bill over the next year. The pressing matter right now, as usual, is whom do we scapegoat? The consensus seems to be McCain, even though (a) Susan Collins has opposed every repeal bill to come down the pike and (b) Rand Paul continues to insist on conservative revisions to Republican proposals that would only make them less popular and more difficult to pass. Maverick’s the scapegoat of choice as a sort of lifetime achievement award, I think. He’s been sticking his finger in the right’s eye on things like immigration for ages, and his surprise no vote in July to kill “skinny repeal” was the sort of dramatic flourish that seemed designed to pander to his fans in the media. Trump went after him last night on Twitter for promising repeatedly to repeal and replace ObamaCare and then balking when he had the chance; Louie Gohmert went as far yesterday as to call on Arizona to “recall” him so that he can fight his cancer without “stress” or something. McCain, naturally, is enjoying the antagonism immensely. Today he demanded regular order on not just health-care reform but tax reform too, an all but impossible condition given McConnell’s narrow margin and the difficulty of bipartisanship on tax policy to begin with. Good luck with that, Mitch.

Here’s Trump’s Twitter shot at Maverick followed by Joe Scarborough going off on McCain’s critics for assailing a dying man. Sorry, Joe: Trump’s hit here is perfectly clean. Senator “Straight Talk” didn’t talk so straight about repeal.