Thursday was supposed to be a glorious anniversary for President Trump and the Republicans. Seven years after President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, Republicans were poised to take the first concrete step toward repealing and replacing that law. Instead, Thursday produced an embarrassing setback that left the way forward far from certain.
Legislative sausage-making is never pretty, but what has been happening all week with the signature legislative priority of the GOP seems beyond the norms. Faced with possible defeat on the floor, House Republican leaders postponed a scheduled vote until Friday, hoping that another day of negotiations could produce what seven years of talking have failed to produce, which is a consensus bill that all factions of the party can support.
The difficulties Republicans are confronting are entirely of their own making. For seven years, Republican politicians have made one overriding bargain with their conservative constituency, which was that they would repeal Obamacare as their first order of business if they ever had the power to do so. Now that they have the power, they still haven’t found a way to make good on that promise.
The other reality that has become clearer as Republicans have struggled to turn a campaign promise into a satisfactory piece of legislation is that, even if they eventually put a bill on Trump’s desk, they still could be buying themselves political problems in the months and years ahead. That is perhaps a second-order problem right now, given the goal of getting something through the House. But as Obama and the Democrats learned, changing the health-care system is fraught, no matter which direction the changes go.
Failure to live up to the pledge to, at the very least, significantly scale back Obamacare is obviously the worst of all possible outcomes. Such a defeat would put the lie to the claim that the Republicans, now with full control of the executive and legislative branches, were ready to govern as a conservative party. Failure also would undermine the idea of the president as the dealmaker in chief, for he has thrown himself into the battle with notable energy and determination, putting his own prestige on the line.
SOURCE: Dan Balz
The Washington Post