Trump, McConnell, and Ryan in the Rubble of Hubris

by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed –

What began in enforced secrecy with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and twelve angry men has been ended, for now, at the hands of three women in the bright light of day.

To recap: The first version of the Senate’s attempt to overturn the Affordable Care Act was a horror. Several Republicans killed it before it could die in a vote. The second version dangled by a thread as John McCain went home to deal with a health issue, and was finally undone by Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah, who plotted their decision to join the “No” brigade with Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine at the same time as Donald Trump was downing ribeye and succotash with wavering senators at the White House.

The third version, a messy “Repeal Now And Pray For Rain Later” bungle that was originally floated in 2015, was killed by three Republicans — Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Shelley Moore Capito — before it had time to tie its shoes. As of Tuesday evening, there is no fourth version to speak of. McConnell is making noises about bringing Version 3.0 to a doomed vote anyway, just to get everyone on the record.

Republicans, all. The politics and the optics, the optics and the politics, oh my, oh my. I’m so old, I remember when the ACA was going to be repealed on “Day One,” after which I was really going to get sick of all this winning. Look where we are now. The GOP’s signature goal, promised on a daily basis for more than seven years, is now a burning jalopy in the breakdown lane of the highway. Why?

Number one: Resistance. Massive numbers of Americans, led by disabled and chronically ill people willing to be arrested in the halls of Congress to push home the point, took to the phones, the streets and the internet to oppose this thrice-baked crudmuffin. This made a world of difference, particularly in swaying Republican moderates when the deal finally went down. More than a few hardliners felt that heat, as well, and responded. It mattered, right down to the ground.

Number two: Republicans. The DC Democrats could have taken the balance of this last year off and downed piña coladas with the werewolves at Trader Vic’s for all the impact they’ve had on the legislative agenda. While enormous public resistance against every iteration of the GOP’s ACA repeal efforts was the foremost cause of this victory, amen, we also need to look at the flawed strategies and internal politics that allowed the party to fail so dramatically. This festival of botch was all Republicans, from soup to nuts.

The entirety of the Republican leadership in Congress helped cause this, I am pleased to say, by spending nearly 3,000 days promising to repeal the ACA while never bothering to develop a plan to actually do it.

The Freedom Caucus helped cause this by forcing a House version of ACA repeal that would have made Genghis Khan wince and turn away, and Paul Ryan helped cause this by letting them.

Mitch McConnell helped cause this by taking the bag of hammers given to him by the House and turning it three separate times into something so unpalatable that the moderates and the hardliners started speaking the same language, albeit for different reasons. Collins, Murkowski and Capito wanted no part of the assault on Medicaid and on health care for women in general, which made their endgame move perfectly karmic in nature. Moran, for his part, warned that McConnell’s bill would cause health care in the US to somehow “devolve into a single-payer system.”  Dread the thought. Both Collins and Moran denounced the secrecy of the process. Beat that with a stick.



Reprinted with permission from Truthout