The health care bill unveiled by Senate Republicans Thursday morning should, by the standards of the normal laws of politics, have approximately a snowball’s chance in hell of passing.
One well-known fact of American politics is that it is extremely hard, in general, to roll back substantial welfare state programs that are already in existence and already delivering concrete benefits to American citizens. A separate fact is that interest groups are influential in the congressional process, and can often shape legislation to suit their interests or block legislation that doesn’t fit their interests. A third fact is that public opinion matters — if you’re going to override the interest groups, you’re going to need the public on your side. And a fourth fact is that though they often fail to deliver, politicians generally make a good-faith effort to implement their campaign promises.
The Better Care Reconciliation Act that Mitch McConnell revealed to the public today fails on all those tests. It should be deader than dead. Not meaningless, by any means, but simply a vehicle that hardcore conservatives in safe districts can use to vent, while more pragmatic members of Congress try to think of a sensible plan B, like working with red-state Democrats on some kind of bipartisan health bill.