Republicans Bemoan Democratic Obstruction of Their Anti Health-Care Bill: Some Context

by JoeCarl –

With what conservatives consider health care looking more and more like road kill, the excuses are starting.  Kellyanne Conway has whined, “There are no Democrats that want to support health care reform.”  The President, such as he is, has complained, “We have had no help ….”  So, let’s put this into perspective.

Start with a look back at the statesman-like deportment of Republicans during the debate on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Norm Ornstein, in The Atlantic, described it in depth.

He noted that, even before the ACA debate began, “congressional Republicans pursued a conscious strategy not to cooperate with Democrats on the stimulus” (the economic package designed to pull us out of the Republicans’ Great Recession).  Republican leadership in the house ordered obstruction.  Senate Republicans attempted a filibuster.

When the ACA debate was joined, House Republicans made clear “that they were not cooperating under any circumstances.”

In the Senate Finance Committee, Chairman Max Baucus “signaled his desire to find a bipartisan compromise,” and negotiations started well.  Then Republicans pulled back.

Mitch McConnell, the exemplar of moral leadership, the epitome of principled politics, the embodiment of dealing in good-faith, and the symbol of all that is honorable about America, had intervened.  McConnell transformed genuine negotiations into “shrill anti-reform rhetoric,” including talk of “death panels that would kill grandma.”

“When Republicans like Hatch and Grassley began to write op-eds and trash the individual mandate, which they had earlier championed … it convinced conservative Democrats in the Senate that every honest effort to engage Republicans in the reform effort had been tried and cynically rebuffed.”

The “overheated rhetoric, reinforced by conservative talk radio, cable television, blogs, and social media,” poisoned everything.

The demonization of the act went on to hamper Medicaid expansion, preventing the extension of “insurance to millions of people.”  It precluded “bipartisan efforts to revise or tweak the law to make it more effective,” and it spurred “guerrilla efforts to undermine its implementation ….”

The ACA was passed in October of 2009.  By March of 2014, Republicans had voted 54 times – FIFTY FOUR TIMES – to repeal, undo, defund, or otherwise undermine the act.

The ACA was “the most dangerous law ever passed by congress.”  The act was “as destructive to personal and individual liberties as the Fugitive Slave Act.”  It “literally kills women, kills children and kills senior citizens.”

This might be a good time to remind yourself that these Republicans are descripting a bill that provided medical care to tens of millions of Americans who previously could not afford it.

For a while, these seemed destined to be acts that would live in impotence.  Then, the American electorate, in an act that has no explanation other than a voluntary lobotomy, elected a truly awful human being President.

Republicans never had been shy about lying about the ACA.  At this point, seeing what unrelenting lying could do, they redoubled their efforts.  The ACA was a failure, was getting worse, had undermined the healthcare system, and is a disaster for the American people – all demonstrable lies.  But they kept at it, over and over and always a lie.

The biggest lie, the one now favored by the Liar-in-Chief, is that the ACA was in a death spiral due to its inherent flaws.

There was no death spiral: Republicans had taken a solid structure, exploded charges around every pillar in the foundation, and then claimed that the structure was falling under its own weight.

To save the republic from the devastation of expanded access to health care, Republicans then embarked on a dangerously rushed and foolishly secretive attempt to jury-rig a schizophrenic health-care/tax-cut bill that, had they been either serious or honorable, they would have written years ago.

To justify the process,  they lied (surprise) about the ACA having been created the same way.  (Besides being a lie, it was a classic Trumpian tactic: never try to defend the indefensible, just deflect.)

Today, it’s all in ashes.  The great conservative hope of a laissez-fair health-care “market” has crashed and burned.  And it was Republicans that brought it down.

Unfortunately, through sabotage, Republicans also have brought the once serviceable ACA almost to its knees.  Republicans truly are wandering in a health-care wilderness – and they are dragging the American people behind them.

So, now, in their hour of need, Republicans cry out for bipartisanship and find no Democrat willing to extend a hand or offer a smile.  Go figure.

It still can go either way.  It might get a little bit better, or it might get catastrophically worse.

There is a small chance that Democrats can deal with a President ungrounded by ideology, principle, or consistency and with just enough Republicans frighten by the thought that they now own the American health-care system.

There is a much larger chance that Trump, personally reviled and rejected around the (free) world, disgraced and laughed at, will retreat to the one win still available to him: wreck the legacy of that black guy who usurped the presidency.  And, of course, there always are Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

They can repeal without replacing, or they can continue to sabotage the ACA and let it fail.  Maybe our best hope is that the Democratic Party finally figures out a way to hammer Republicans with whatever comes  out of this.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos