The Republicans have released their bill, and we’ve seen the Congressional Budget Office score. It isn’t pretty. There wasn’t a lot to like about the bill in the first place, regardless of what your politics are, and now that we have some official numbers to put things in perspective, it’s looking slightly worse. Once again, I’m going to skip the details. There are lots of other places to get far better analysis and data than here. No, I’m here to try and help republicans get out of the mess they’ve made for themselves.
So, as best I can tell, there are a few layers to republican problems. The first is that they have to replace Obamacare with something. They’ve been campaigning on it for years, they put forward bill after bill replacing it in the House, and now, controlling the executive and legislative branches, they have no more excuses. Their replacement needs to satisfy both those who want the federal government to fix healthcare, and those who don’t want the federal government involved at all. They need to at least provide cover for the president who promised everyone would get everything and it would be cheaper than it is now. And they need to do it fast.
Let’s put the best case scenario out of the picture. There is no way to accomplish all these goals. There are too many groups with too many contradictory needs to possibly even accommodate that. No, what they need to do is blame someone else for their inevitable failure. If they can’t, if they take ownership of healthcare and screw it up, voters will punish them. Anyone with an R next to their name will be punished. Even those as incompetent at campaigning as the democrats are won’t be able to lose the next round of elections. So who can take the blame?
The options are limited. Democrats are one choice, and no doubt they will try hard. But they’ve already blunted their best weapon by constantly hammering the point that Obamacare passed without republican votes. That allowed them to force the democrats to take the blame for every problem with Obamacare, but it means that they will now take ownership of anything that ends up passing. Dems won’t come out of this smelling like roses, but they’ll look a lot better than those who actually voted for this mess.
Voters are another choice. By blaming welfare queens and takers in general they can put the blame from themselves onto democratic voters. True, many of the beneficiaries of Obamacare are republicans, but what’s a lifelong republican going to do, vote democratic? No, but they may stay home entirely. Unless they can really whip republican voters into a rabid frenzy of democratic hatred, I just don’t see it working.
That leaves only one remaining possibility: President Trump. His promises were too over the top. He never gave the support that republicans needed. The presidential salesman couldn’t sell it. I can see only one way of republicans keeping their power once Trumpcare fails. Impeach him. Put every sin they can think of around his neck and sink him. It’s a ballsy move, but there are benefits. Democrats will be loathe to do anything that appears to support Trump. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and so forth. He’s such an outsider that he’s not really a republican, so their brand can remain less tarnished. He’s probably already committed impeachable offenses. They can replace him with a much more reliable Pence. Regular readers know that I do not endorse this strategy. I’m convinced a president Pence would be far more destructive than President Trump. But if I were a republican lawmaker, I’d be planning Trump’s impeachment now. He’s the best scapegoat they have, and if they hit him right, they have a real chance of keeping their majorities.