Hint: He doesn’t mean Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand. He’s talking about Collins, Murkowski, and Capito, the Republican trio that sank clean repeal this morning. Supposedly the RINOs have mutinied and seized control of the ship of state. A few random points:
1. You can blame Collins et al. for being first out of the gate in trampling repeal but you’re kidding yourself if you think they’re the only three members of the caucus who oppose it. Rob Portman and Dean Heller are also likely no’s. Jeff Flake will have a very tough vote given that he’s up for reelection next year. McCain issued a statement last night calling for a return to regular order in passing a replacement for ObamaCare. We’ll see how the floor vote shapes up on straight repeal, assuming McConnell really is intent on holding it, but you’re likely to end up with closer to 10 GOP votes against repeal than three. And if the caucus could vote as it likes, without pressure from the base, you’d probably be looking at dozens.
2. Collins et al. matter today only because Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Jerry Moran killed McConnell’s bill last night. You could just as easily take Rush’s rant here and say that three male conservatives have wrecked the dream of finally getting rid of ObamaCare. Now, maybe Collins, Murkowski, and Capito also would have voted no on McConnell’s bill — Collins suggested as much, in fact — but they weren’t decisive. A la the first iteration of the House health-care bill in March, it was the right side of the caucus that tanked the leadership’s offer.
3. I understand the disgust with Murkowski and Capito for having voted for clean repeal in 2015, when they knew it would be vetoed by Obama, only to turn around now and refuse to vote for it when it actually matters. (Collins has opposed repeal all along.) That’s seven years of GOP posturing on ObamaCare in a nutshell: Lots of big talk about undoing Obama’s legacy and then no guts when an opportunity to do it actually arises. They’re shameless panderers. But, if they honestly believe that repeal now without a replacement would destabilize the already fragile ObamaCare exchanges, it’d be foolish to cast a destructive vote purely for the sake of consistency. The lesson is that you shouldn’t posture on meaningless votes and mislead your constituents on what you really believe.
4. I can’t process a rant like this coming from one of Trump’s most ardent apologists in conservative media. It feels like a time capsule from 2012, when the worst thing you could be on the populist right was a big-government Republican. RINOs versus “true conservatives,” remember that? We had a referendum on that in 2016 and the RINO stomped the “true conservative.” The guy who’s sitting in the Oval Office today made promises galore on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t touch entitlements, including Medicaid. Now here come Collins, Murkowski, and Capito refusing to go along with a bill that would roll ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion waaaaay back and they’re the ones who’ve betrayed the GOP? They’re closer to the populist Trumpian vision than Rand Paul and Mike Lee are. In fact, I’d remind you that when the House bill was stuck in the mud a few months ago, one of Trump’s friends in right-wing media encouraged him to ditch Paul Ryan’s conservative health-care program and be true to his campaign message by pushing a bigger-government populist plan potentially involving an “upgraded Medicaid system to become the country’s blanket insurer for the uninsured.” Collins et al. are more Trumpist than Trump in this case, and yet, because they’re a thorn in his side politically by obstructing clean repeal, they’re getting killed for it even among pro-Trump media. That goes to show you that “Trumpism” is really more about whether Trump personally wins or loses than whether his preferred vision of government does.
As part of your exit question, two old Trump tweets that are floating around on Twitter today:
Obama's complaints about Republicans stopping his agenda are BS since he had full control for two years. He can never take responsibility.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2012
NO GAMES! HOUSE @GOP MUST DEFUND OBAMACARE! IF THEY DON’T, THEN THEY OWN IT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 12, 2013
He said earlier this afternoon that if ObamaCare fails, it’ll be Democrats who own it, not Republicans. How does that jibe with these tweets?