It's hard to decide which would be the more politically damaging outcome for Republican politicians: passing the American Health Care Act, and therefore owning the premium increases and coverage losses it would cause; or not passing the bill, and therefore failing to do anything that can be framed as "repealing Obamacare."I think failure would be a much better outcome for Republicans politically -- as Barro, says, if they pass a bill they'll be responsible for whatever health care looks like in the future (and if it's dictated by this bill, our health care future will be terrible).
Each option is a political nightmare for Republicans for the same reason: Each would amount to an admission that Republicans cannot deliver what they have promised for years on healthcare.
But won't they be held accountable for failing to deliver on a promise they've made relentlessly for seven years? Maybe not -- if they all just stop talking about health care.
I think that's a real possibility. I think Republicans may just stop talking about how awful they think Obamacare is, and tiptoe away from the subject whenever possible.
Notice what happened in America as homosexuality gained mainstream acceptance: National Republicans gradually backed away from using opposition to gay marriage as a wedge issue. Yes, they still get worked up when caterers or cake bakers are accused of discrimination for not wanting to provide services for same-sex weddings, and yes, they're still very nasty on transgender rights, but even though nearly all of them will still tell you that legalization of same-sex marriage should have been left to the states, it's now safe for them to say that national legalization of same-sex marriage is settled law. And even "it should have been left to the states" is an improvement over what Republicans were saying a decade ago, when many of them wanted a ban in the federal Constitution. They're certainly not scheduling anti-gay state referenda in order to drive the presidential vote, the way they did, for instance, in 2004. In national elections, they're not talking about gay rights much at all.
Obamacare is gaining acceptance now. So I'm predicting that after the Ryan/Trumpcare bill fails, if it really does fail, D.C. Republicans might become as silent on Obamacare as they've been noisy since the legislation passed. They won't want to remind us that they despised the program for years. They'll never acknowledge the change -- they'll just try to memory-hole their years of incessant opposition. They'll just move on.