“Any sufficiently advanced malice is indistinguishable from incompetence.”
On July 17, after two of 52 Republican Senators announced they would not vote for a debate to allow the Senate’s healthcare “reform” to come to the floor (Susan Collins because the bill didn’t keep enough of Obamacare, Rand Paul because it kept any part of Obamacare at all), two other Republican Senators, Mike Lee and Jerry Moran, followed suit, which meant that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vote could not proceed, because it was predicated on only requiring a simple majority instead of a two-thirds vote that would have required Democrats. So following Donald Trump’s directive to just repeal Obamacare without worrying about a replacement (one suspects that was the goal all along), Mitch “the Bitch” McConnell decided to re-introduce a repeal bill that Republicans passed in 2015 – when Obama was President, and they knew they wouldn’t have to back it up. Of course the reason they went through this whole rigamarole is that there were even less votes for a straight repeal than there were for a negotiated reform. So no surprise that this last gasp at the Republican dream got taken out on July 18 by Collins, Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Shelley Capito. All women, which is probably just a coincidence.
Donald Trump responded. “We’re not going to own it, I’m not going to own it,” Trump said. “I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they are going to say ‘how do we fix it, how do we fix it’ or ‘how do we come up with a new plan?”
Of course as one guy on the news shows put it, Trump doesn’t own most of the stuff that has his name on it. But the best response to that sentiment was probably from Shepard Smith on Fox News: “But politically, Trump does own it. Because voters gave them control of Washington. It was a central promise of Republicans’ campaigns. For eight years, they told constituents and voters, give us control and we will repeal and replace Obamacare.”
If even some on the Right are criticizing the Republican approach, it’s not necessarily because they’re centrist-liberal squishes who were more aligned to the Democrats anyway. Some of the observers on the Right worked towards getting a Republican majority because they assumed that Republicans would do something with it. They thought that their side would have a better idea than the Democrats. As opposed to the people actually in charge, who apparently just wanted to string the voters along and didn’t realize that at some point they’d have to show their hand.
As for: “We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they are going to say ‘how do we fix it, how do we fix it’ or ‘how do we come up with a new plan?” it’s of a piece with their general attitude. Blame the Democrats for doing it wrong then ask them to do it for you cause you can’t do it at all. Hold the thinking, productive people hostage to their own morals so that the mindless moochers can avoid individual responsibility. Among the many ironies of late-stage “conservatism” is how it re-enacts Atlas Shrugged with the political sides reversed.
Republicans: You got everything you wanted. You had both houses of Congress and the White House. And we as a nation gave you all the power because even if we didn’t agree with you on all things, or even most things, we agreed that we hated the Democrats, we hated liberals in general, and we REALLY HATED Hillary Clinton. And you took that opportunity and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING with it, and that’s because you’ve GOT nothing. You used Russia as an excuse to dither about the domestic agenda, and then you used the domestic agenda as an excuse to dither about Russia. Now you have no domestic agenda, and you’re on record as being enablers for Putin’s butt boy. Sick of winning yet?
And this is just in the first six months of a Republican President. You’ve got about 16 more months to undermine your status before the next midterm elections. Granted, if this all hinges on the ability of Democrats to pick up a clue with two hands, then God-Emperor Trump may be ruling the galaxy from his life-support chamber well past the year 40,000 AD. But if Democrats do fail to gain at least one house of Congress in the 2018 midterms, it won’t be because Republicans didn’t give them every opportunity they possibly could. Especially when “we’ll let Obamacare fail” is telegraphing a strategy to sabotage the system for political purposes so that you DO own the final result, and then expecting Democrats to crawl to people who have proven themselves to be untrustworthy and then expecting voters to crawl to the people who took away their healthcare as though that was a top resume item.
And the thing is, it didn’t have to be this way. Once you realized that as hated and flawed as the Affordable Care Act was, it was better than the prior status quo, and that repeal-and-delay was not nearly as popular as repeal-and-replace, which in turn was less popular than not repealing it at all, a sane party would have realized it was political malpractice to mess with the ACA without having an actual alternative. And since we now know you didn’t have that, you still had an option. At that point you could have just done what the Clintons do, and engaged in “triangulation.” You could have just juggled a few details and came up with basically the same thing, and shamelessly pandered saying that the ACA was a Republican idea all along. Because after all, it WAS.
But accepting the new status quo would have meant accepting Obamacare, and that just wasn’t possible for your Dear Leader, or your “base.” Even if the roots were a conservative idea, you didn’t like it just because Democrats liked it. (Specifically because the biracial whippersnapper with the middle name Hussein liked it.)
The problem is that even though the Democrats’ usual M.O. is to compromise their way through everything, Republicans have ruled that out because of their consistent “Fuck you because YOU want this” attitude. When you’re dealing with that level of brattiness, there is no point in negotiation.
Eventually Democrats are going to figure that out. In fact, some of them already have. Half the reason that the Affordable Care Act was insufficient by leftist standards (and why Obama never pushed things like a public option) is because the Obama Administration and the Democratic Senate were trying to get votes from Republicans, and when they couldn’t get those, they needed to compromise with the centrists of their own party to get a two-thirds majority. The latest bills being debated within the Democratic caucus are less about tinkering with Obamacare, which they already have, and more about pushing national healthcare systems like “Medicare for All.” Bill Maher, among others, has pointed out that the problem with Democrats is that they haggle from the middle. That is, rather than acknowledging that a negotiation is only going to give you some of what you want, they start from the position that they want to end up in rather than make exaggerated demands that the other side would not accept. As a result, rather than haggling bringing them to half a loaf of bread, they compromise down to the crumbs. There is now not much point in doing that. It should be obvious even to Democrats that there is no room to negotiate with the Republican Party as an institution even if individual Republicans are open to it, and as for centrist Democrats, they already got what they wanted in the Obama Administration. If (and that’s a big if, of course) Democrats regain the political initiative, the push will switch from “this is too socialist” to “this isn’t socialist enough.”
Republicans had the only serious attempt to reconcile a market-based insurance system with the supports necessary to cover high-risk patients who were not feasible for insurance companies to cover. That system just happened to be Obamacare. And yes, Obamacare has flaws. Because it does not address costs, it really is not feasible in the long run, but it is still more feasible in the short run than the status quo ante of leaving everything up to the insurance companies. That’s why a lot of businesses were secretly lobbying for the ACA, because the costs of insurance to businesses are costing more and more on the bottom line.
A fiscal conservative would have taken all of this into account. But the motivation here was never fiscal conservatism.
Having no free-market alternative to the ACA, “conservatives” have abandoned the field to those who want more government, not less. By sponsoring a medical “reform” that was more about shifting costs from rich people’s taxes to poor people’s deductibles, Republicans did more to justify the class-warfare paradigm than generations of leftist propaganda. And by hiring total incompetents to run Cabinet departments rather than either reforming them or making a clear case why they should be abolished, “small government” Republicans make it clear that their goal is to grow government to enrich the elite.
Republicans, you had a country that had gotten sick of ivory-tower liberalism after eight years of Obama, and the last thing they wanted was a Clinton comeback. They wanted an improvement from that. They got anti-intellectual parasites. Because that’s what you are, and that’s the kind of person you vote for. And in attempting to turn back the clock rather than acknowledge where you are now, you run the risk of a backlash that will make the backlash to Obama-Clinton look like nothing. After all, Clinton DID get more votes than your little boy, and that’s before people saw what he was going to do. And if the whole point of you voting for Republicans is “fuck your feelings, fuck Clinton and fuck the Social Justice Warriors”, what do you think they’re going to do when the political climate turns again?
They’re not just going to give you something to cry about. You’re going to scream like a little bitch.
Yes, Mr. and Mrs. America, your daughter WILL marry a Syrian Muslim woman. (After declaring herself to be a man.) And they will move into a taco truck. And they will support themselves with the aid of socialized medicine.
And it’s all your fucking fault.