July 30, 2017

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: A succession of Republican failures on healthcare.

What happened early Friday morning, with the collapse of Republican efforts to pass Obamacare reform legislation in the Senate wasn’t mostly a story of Sen. John McCain, the maverick. Nor was it a failure of vote whipping or presidential rallying this summer. It was the climax of eight years of failed leadership by Republicans in Congress.

Yes, McCain was characteristically mercurial. Yes, President Trump was disengaged and did little to rev up public opinion. And yes, even the odd 2010 Alaska Senate election, won by Republican Lisa Murkowski, who voted against her party, was relevant. But blame for the Republicans’ failure to repeal and replace Obamacare lies mostly at the feet of House and Senate leaders.

The Affordable Care Act passed in March 2010. Republicans immediately promised to repeal it. But they didn’t act as though they meant it. The party’s leaders brought up many futile repeal bills, but they failed to lay the groundwork for repeal and replacement legislation that might actually pass once President Obama was out of the White House.

The basic task of writing a replacement plan and securing agreement on it was neglected. Many conservative and libertarian healthcare scholars drew up plans, with strengths and weaknesses. Leaders truly dedicated to getting rid of Obamacare would have adopted, debated, hammered out, or improved these plans, and adopted the passable resulting draft.

Well, yes. And hell, they could have just adopted Karl Denninger’s free-market healthcare plan. But that would have provided insufficient opportunities for graft.

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