Never content to let a good week go by without botching something, several Senate Republicans admitted to a Politico reporter that they’ve surrendered on repealing Obamacare.
And what a great week it had been for the GOP: the enduring image being Democrats at the State of the Union sitting on their hands looking like — in the words of Brit Hume — “their dogs just died” while President Trump was lauding record lows in unemployment, making strong appeals to patriotism, and showing in the process how petty, petulant, and radical the Democrats have become. Then another Kennedy was trotted out to hit on all the in-vogue identity politics groups with a stunted delivery which made Trump look even more presidential. If this is what the Democrats are offering the people in 2018, the GOP may hold on to the House and make gains in the Senate after all.
However, rather than simply coasting on their gains, leading Senate Republicans instead decided to tell Politico that repealing Obamacare this year is too difficult to be worth trying. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the third highest ranking Republican in the Senate, reportedly said, “It would be a heavy lift.” Poor Mr. Thune. Governing and delivering promises is too hard. “I don’t think leadership wants to,” added Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Well, that’s an understatement.
But here’s the real truth: they never actually wanted to. If they did, they would have had a cohesive plan ready when Trump was sworn in last year. Instead, they fiddled with foolish and unworkable ideas that went down to an embarrassing defeat in July. And when Cassidy, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Rick Santorum developed a plan which was actually conservative and workable, they got zero support from leadership until it was too late to meet the reconciliation deadline.
Ironically for some conservatives, the only senator quoted in the article who isn’t giving up is the aforementioned Sen. Graham. Although he is frequently criticized from the right for his moderate-to-liberal positions on immigration and other matters, he is rock-solid on the pro-life issue and is actually committed to delivering on the promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare: “I’m certainly not giving up without a fight. And to any Republican who thinks you can avoid the consequences of Obamacare collapsing, you’re kidding yourself.”
Thune’s response? “We’ll believe it when we see it.” Ever the optimist, he continued, “If [Graham]’s got 50 for it, more power [to him],” Thune said. “The leader’s not going to bring that up if he can’t get it through.” Right, Mr. Thune. It’s not the job of the leadership to lead the GOP in delivering on it’s promise.
One thing is certain, though: if Senate Republicans don’t fight every day to repeal and replace Obamacare until it’s finally done, voters will be asking again in November why they’re being asked to pull the level for an incompetent group that doesn’t follow through on what it promises.
Photo credit: NOBama NoMas via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0