Friday, July 07, 2017


Mitch McConnell seems to be acknowledging the likelihood of defeat:
A bill focused on buttressing the nation’s insurance marketplaces will be needed if the full-fledged Republican effort to repeal much of President Barack Obama’s health care law fails, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday....

The remarks by McConnell, R-Ky., also implicitly meant that to show progress on health care, Republicans controlling the White House and Congress might have to negotiate with Democrats. While the current, wide-ranging GOP health care bill — which McConnell is still hoping to push through the Senate — has procedural protections against a Democratic Senate filibuster, a subsequent, narrower measure would not and would take 60 votes to pass....

“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” McConnell said at a Rotary Club lunch in this deep-red rural area in southern Kentucky. He made the comment after being asked if he envisioned needing bipartisan cooperation to replace Obama’s law.

“No action is not an alternative,” McConnell said. “We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.”
This seems like a big win for Democrats and the anti-GOP resistance. But I wonder if McConnell is doing more than simply trying to shore up Obamacare. I wonder if his fallback plan is intended to make Democrats own an unpopular outcome.

Let's say Republicans give up on repeal, then invite Democrats to negotiate on a bipartisan bill to save the system. At that point, why would Republicans have a motivation to ensure the system can still work well? Now they'd have someone to blame for failure. A year from now, the various Trumpcare bills will be down the memory hole. The Republican narrative -- probably persuasive to GOP voters -- will be "We invited Democrats to the bargaining table, and this was the outcome."

I know the conventional wisdom is that Republicans now own health care, because every voter knows they control the White House and Congress. But Democrats are quite visibly on the sidelines now. If they join in the talks, can't the GOP message machine assign them a disproportionate share of the blame for the results? I know McConnell seems now to be much less of a tactical genius than we thought he was a month ago, but I think he still might salvage a winning (i.e., opposition-bashing) message from this.

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