Was it Democrats singing to the GOP, believing that they just sealed their doom in the midterms by voting for this, or was it the GOP singing to Democrats, bidding ObamaCare a (premature) farewell? It’s stupid either way.
I can’t decide which side is being more short-sighted by overreacting to a bill that has no chance of passing the Senate and therefore will absolutely not become law, at least in its current form. Is it Democrats, who are measuring the drapes for a House takeover in 2018 because of a bill that was DOA the moment it cleared the House? Liberals are consoling themselves today with the fact that the AHCA is hugely unpopular (at least according to one poll) and therefore presages the same sort of wave that ObamaCare triggered in the 2010 midterms. But … ObamaCare became law. They actually got it through and Americans had to live with the consequences. Whether the GOP can successfully pass anything to replace O-Care remains in doubt. Today’s bill is useful to Democrats in that, at the very least, they can make the case to voters next year that electing more Republicans to Congress will improve the odds that a terrible bill along these lines might become law. How much will that message resonate, though, if Americans go to the polls in 2018 with the GOP paralyzed, unable to stitch together a bill that can satisfy all wings of the party? ObamaCare will still be the law of the land with no end in sight. (In fact, if today is the beginning of an electoral debacle, it may be because the ensuing health-care paralysis depresses Republican turnout more than it catalyzes Democratic turnout.) A bad failed bill may not motivate voters much, especially if the economy is good. If Democrats want to celebrate today, they should celebrate the fact that the GOP is so deeply divided ideologically that the AHCA won’t enjoy so much as a day of optimism about getting through the Senate.
But I don’t know. Maybe it’s Republicans who are being stupider by insisting on holding a White House celebration this afternoon for a bill that (a) really is unpopular, (b) has no hope of passage, and (c) is still waiting on a CBO score next week that could be ugly and turn even more voters against it. I realize Trump and Ryan are eager for something to point to as a victory but why the hell would you hand Pelosi what might end up being the health-care equivalent of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” photo op? You could understand doing it if they were at least proud of the bill on the merits, but literally no one seemed excited to vote for it. “[W]hat House Republicans have really done today,” writes Peter Suderman, “is vote to keep Obamacare’s essential subsidy and regulations scheme in place, but in a form that is arguably worse than Obamacare itself.” Right, and ObamaCare at least could be sold to the public as a massive improvement in coverage for the poor and sick. The AHCA has to defend itself in terms of greater consumer choice and (hopefully) lower premiums for the majority at the price of scaling back provisions for the poor and sick. Even if the photo op doesn’t blow up in the GOP’s face by branding them with their own unpopular bill, it’s pathetic to pop the champagne for legislation that’s just one-third of the way towards becoming law. It inadvertently underlines the fact that a federal government wholly controlled by Republicans, who swore for seven years that they would repeal ObamaCare at the earliest opportunity, has achieved so little so far into Trump’s term that they need to hold Rose Garden ceremonies just for clearing the first procedural hurdle. Do we get a parade if the Senate passes its own very different health-care bill and that ends up immediately DOA in the House? How low is the bar for victory laps in the Trump era?
— POLITICO (@politico) May 4, 2017