Healthcare Failure Has Everyone Pointing Fingers

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On the day before House Speaker Paul Ryan introduced the American Health Care Act, no one could have dreamed that this political saga would have ended the way it did. Yes, there were deep concerns about the Republican Party’s ability to pass repeal-and-replace legislation through the Senate, where they only have a slim majority, but we were told that the bill would be constructed in such a way that Mitch McConnell could pass it without Democrat support. As far as the House went? No problem.

Instead, disaster. Like his predecessor, John Boehner, Ryan has been unable to bridge the gap between the conservatives in the Freedom Caucus, the Republican “establishment,” and the moderate, blue-state Republicans who cannot govern as conservatives and keep their seats.

“We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” Ryan said Friday as he announced that he was pulling the AHCA from consideration.

President Trump, who used the repeal and replace of Obamacare as one of his chief campaign platforms, told GOP leaders that there would not be another bill. Health care is done. The Affordable Care Act will remain in place. Trump is moving on to the next phase of his agenda. After six years of Republican rhetoric against Obamacare, it seems the opportunity to get rid of it has been squandered.

Hard-right conservative commentators are blaming Ryan for the failure, saying he tried to dupe Trump into supporting a bill that was about Paul Ryan, not Donald Trump’s agenda. Others have blamed Trump for not spending as much time on the details of the bill as he could have. And some have simply blamed the entire party leadership, from the president to Congress to the Cabinet, for trying to rush this process forward instead of taking it slow and getting it right.

Wherever the blame lies, the worst mistake would be to pretend that everything is fine and Republicans will just “get ’em next time.” Healthcare was supposed to be the easy one. It was the one issue on which every elected Republican agreed: Obamacare needed to go. And yet, they couldn’t come together and make it happen. Why will tax reform be any easier? How will the GOP pass a budget? Will this party be any more effective in control than they were on defense?

At the same time, let’s not go crazy. This is a bad situation, but let’s not make it worse than it is. We are out from under the Obama years, and that’s something to be thankful for. Every day further we get from that era, the skies get a little brighter. Trump is president. Republicans have the Congress. There’s about to be another conservative on the Supreme Court. Basic American freedoms are no longer hanging in the balance.

We have a right to be angry about this failure. We have a right to criticize the people we elected. But let’s not get so wrapped up in the intra-party fighting that we do the bidding of the Democrats. Let’s not forget that as imperfect as things appear to be now…they could be so much worse.