“Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated.” — Donald Trump
After hiding it from both the public and the GOP Senate for a week, Paul Ryan and the House Republicans rolled out the replacement plan for Obamacare last night. It was met on social media with immediate criticism and some backers of the bill have done little to help their cause. It hasn’t exactly won the full endorsement of the White House, either, and while Mitch McConnell suggested he was looking forward to putting it to a vote on the Senate floor, the reality is, it may never make it that far. Even if it does, there’s a very good chance it doesn’t get through the Senate.
Paul Ryan is going to lose.
As is stands, the bill is being attacked not only from the Democrats, but from two wings of the Republican party. Already, major conservative organizations, Club for Growth, Freedom Works and Heritage Foundation have come out against the bill, as have the Koch Brothers. These entities represent a lot of money and influence within the Republican party. They are denouncing the bill because they don’t think it goes far enough to depriving poor people of health insurance. They call it Obamacare-lite.
“The House Republican proposal released last night not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them,” said Michael Needham, the president of Heritage Action for America.
The enemy of your enemy is your friend?
Twenty-two House Republicans would need to turn on the bill for it to fail. That seems easily within reach, particularly since 170 House conservatives have already blasted the bill. However, even if it gets to the Senate, only three GOP Senators are needed to sink it. Already, four GOP Senators have come out against it, because they won’t support anything that reduces Medicaid expansion, while Susan Collins also won’t support any bill that defunds Planned Parenthood and Rand Paul rejects it because he’s Rand Paul. That’s basically six Senators who won’t pass the existing bill.
Make that 7?
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) unloads on AHCA: “This is exactly the type of back-room dealing and rushed process that we criticized Democrats for"— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) March 7, 2017
Meanwhile, even super conservative Senator Roy Blunt is conceding that the bill may not get enough votes to pass.
In addition to opposition within the ranks of the GOP Congress, Obamacare itself has never been more popular, so any Republican who votes for this bill will have to answer to already rowdy constituents, who are looking for blood. It doesn’t help, either, that the White House has not exactly given the bill its seal of approval, and even if it did, it’s not as if a historically unpopular Donald Trump has the clout to push an already unpopular bill through, even if Donald Trump actually knew how to do such a thing. All of the evidence we currently have suggests that Donald Trump wouldn’t know how to get a bill passed through Congress recognizing Tuesday as the second day of the workweek.
I’m not saying that the House bill is DOA, but I am saying that — after debating it for two or three months — it will eventually die of neglect, and every day we get closer to the midterm elections is a day Republicans will be more terrified of voting for any legislation that takes health care away from their constituents.
If this is Paul Ryan’s best foot forward in the healthcare debate, Obamacare has never looked more resilient.