At long last, the GOP Congress and Trump have decided not to repeal Obamacare and to let it die on its own. I said a few months ago that this was the approach I favored and it seems that I have gotten my wish. It’s just too bad that they’re only doing this because they first idiotically did the part that I said would be stupid to do. They did it so hard too.
Allowing Obamacare to fail on its own is now the best, if not only, strategy for Republicans in Congress. Think about it.
Trump has virtually eliminated the individual mandate by executive order. If the IRS has to give waivers to anyone who doesn’t want health insurance and doesn’t want to pay the tax, the whole scheme is bound to collapse. Obamacare can’t survive. It’s impossible.
So now, as the costs continue to soar, providers pull out of markets, and the situation worsens, the Republicans will do what they’ve been doing really well for the past 7 years: complain about how much Obamacare sucks without doing anything about it. This hasn’t been a bad thing for Republicans. They just win more and more elections because of Obamacare.
Unfortunately, all they’re doing is winning elections, for now. They don’t seem to want to do anything with that power, especially when it comes to keeping their promises to repeal that one law that they said they would, but I suppose it’s better to be the majority do-nothing party instead of the minority one. Republicans now get one more election cycle in 2018 to run against Obamacare and perversely, that’s a winning issue that they can use to hold their majority so they can continue not repealing Obamacare for two more years.
This doesn’t mean that I think Ryan and McConnell are carrying out some brilliant master plan. They’re not. They really tried to get something to pass that they thought could strike a balance between the parts of Obamacare that are “popular but not conservative” and “conservative but not popular”. What they put together made nobody happy and in the end, it died in the Senate.
Repealing Obamacare on Day 1 and then demanding Democratic support on bipartisan legislation for protecting the uninsurable and maintaining some of Obamacare’s other provisions would have been smarter. They’d have kept their promise to their voters and forced the Democrats to become part of the solution. If the Democrats obstructed, the Republicans could have run against them for it. Instead, the Republicans improbably managed to obstruct themselves.
So is this a defeat for the GOP and Trump? Yes. They have been humiliated by their failure to accomplish anything despite a Republican majority in both houses and a Republican president in the White House. It was totally self-inflicted too. For that, Democrats should sit back, relax, and laugh. Congratulations, you guys won something after a brutal 8 months.
Just because the GOP lost (against themselves) doesn’t mean it’s over though. The Republicans, Trump in particular, will make sure every single milestone toward Obamacare’s collapse is loudly noted. They’ll demand a bigger majority in the Senate (and there are a lot of vulnerable Democrats) and work hard to hold the House on the threat that Nancy Pelosi will get to write another health care bill if the Democrats win the majority there.
Will it work? I don’t know. In a just and sensible America, it wouldn’t work. But that’s all there is for the GOP Congress to do now. Nothing. The best they can do now is nothing. This might work out, since nothing is what they like doing and sitting there doing nothing is really hard to screw up.