Remember those cheesy “Rambo” movies where Stallone walked unaffected through hails of bullets and explosions, fought off helicopters, ran a gauntlet of tanks, and scaled towers with one arm missing and the other broken in 4 places – and never died at the end? It increasingly appears that the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is the Rambo of legislation.
There are reams of analysis about what went wrong for McConnell and the GOP last night – and what went right for the rest of us. Here are some good references:
- FiveThirtyEight: Why the Senate’s Obamacare Repeal Failed
- Talking Points Memo describes how it went down inside the Senate chamber last night.
- Washington Post: White House pressure on Murkowski backfired big time.
- RedState: What happened during last night’s disastrous “Skinny Repeal” vote
But here’s my alternative take.
Is it possible that McConnell wanted to lose this one?
With a 12% approval rating, the bill was only slightly more popular than leprosy. Additionally, McConnell doesn’t appear to have much respect for Speaker Paul Ryan or the “blow things up” caucus in the House. He had to be ticked by Ryan’s tepid promise that of course, they’d try to hammer a compromise out in conference. McCain’s been around long enough to know a fake out when he hears it. Meanwhile the quintessential inside player, Mitch McConnell, may enjoy hanging the House out to dry yet again on a tough, politically-risky vote.
Last night, McConnell announced that the Senate is “ready to move on,” which is a great idea considering that Congress is months behind in the budget process and needs to raise the debt ceiling or risk default and a shutdown, not to mention the everyday business of governing.
Tax reform is probably next on the agenda, but remember that the health care “reform” effort was really nothing but a way to cut spending to free up enough money to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Failure of health care makes the tax cut math very difficult – or even impossible – for Republicans to pull off.
For that reason alone, I think it’s likely that some version of an Obamacare repeal bill will once again rise from the grave. Stay tuned: the legislative version of Rambo vs the Zombie may soon be playing via C-Span in living rooms everywhere.