This morning—continuing his valiant struggle to find a method in the madness—Jonathan Chait asks: Why Is McConnell Rushing Through a Trumpcare Bill Everybody Hates?
The House bill—which McConnell apparently intends to photocopy and them ram through the Senate—is too liberal for the Republican right and too conservative to pass the Senate.
While McConnell’s plan might be necessary in order to keep the party’s legislative strategy on track, it is highly and even delusionally optimistic, given the state of his vote count. It also runs counter to the Senate’s institutional culture. Senators cherish their power to shape and control legislation. A strategy of photocopying the House bill and ramming it through seems almost designed to violate the Senatorial ego.
This raises a question: Is it designed to violate the Senatorial ego? And thus to fail? Neither the conservative revolt nor McConnell’s plan make a lot of sense if you view them as strategies designed to yield the most right-wing health-care policy that is attainable. They do make sense as a strategy designed to insulate Republicans from failure.
Republicans have made two promises that can’t be reconciled. They promised to repeal Obamacare, and to replace it with a terrific law that would take care of everybody. As the House Republican ad put it, they promised, “more choices and better care, at lower costs. … peace of mind to people with preexisting conditions … without disrupting existing coverage.” Those things cannot be reconciled. If Republicans repeal Obamacare, they will put in place something that not only fails to provide the better, cheaper care they have promised the country, but does not meet even the minimal threshold of access to basic care for people who currently receive it.
From that standpoint, the winning play for the GOP might be to try to repeal and replace Obamacare but fail. If they are seen trying and failing to repeal the law, it might upset the base, but most Republican lawmakers will have their opposition to Obamacare on the record. And if it is to fail, it should fail quickly, so they can move on to cutting taxes.