08/13/2017

Why Republicans Didn't Repeal And Replace Obamacare

Peter Suderman, Reason

The GOP's intra-party war continues, with Donald Trump blaming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the failure of the Obamacare repeal effort.

On Twitter, Trump wrote, "Senator Mitch McConnell said I had 'excessive expectations,' but I don't think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?"

It's a fair question. Part of the answer is that elected Republicans failed for years to seriously engage with the question of how to replace the health care law they campaigned so adamantly against. But it's also an exercise in calculated blame shifting, one that demonstrates how little the president understands about the policy process. In other words, it's the entire party's fault.

Trump's tweet was a response to McConnell's recent statement suggesting that the president may not be realistic about what Congress can do. "Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before," McConnell said this week. "And I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process."

Trump's inexperience is a factor here. But the outsider president's expectations were set in large part by seven years of Republican promises to repeal and replace the health care law. And throughout that time, Republicans were never really serious about developing a replacement plan that could pass.

Back in 2013, when Obamacare's exchanges went online, and immediately crashed, it was clear that many Republicans were simply not interested in productive health policy improvements. Instead, they viewed the struggles of the health care law strictly as a political cudgel to wield against political opponents.

 

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