Today we received word that the Republican flagship legislation, the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), will not come up for a vote because of a lack of support.
Since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Republicans have voiced a false narrative that it won’t work and we can’t afford it. It’s certainly far from perfect but instead of continuing to work on it (as we have with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) the Republicans saw the ACA as a way of gaining power.
And to be fair it worked. In 2010 the Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. Running on the promise of repealing the ACA Republicans scored victories gaining majorities in the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and the White House in 2016.
But Candidate Trump ran on the platform that replacing and improving the ACA “on day one” would be a top priority. He made this statement on March 3, 2016: “On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.” You can see the link here.
In October of 2015 I predicted the demise of the Republican Party and suggested that our next President would never be a Republican. OK, I was wrong. At least on the timetable.
But the demise of the AHCA today showed us while my timetable may have been wrong, my point was not. Currently the House is divided into 237 Republicans, 193 Democrats, and 5 vacancies, and any bill needs 216 votes to pass. Most people (myself included) expected the Republicans would have no trouble passing the AHCA: Even if every Democrat and 21 Republicans voted against the AHCA it would pass. Frankly we thought the Senate fight would make headlines.
But Mr. Trump (who is still wrapping his head around the recognition he can’t fire anyone who irritates him) never expected opposition from the Republican Freedom Caucus, who are some of most conservative members of Congress.
So here’s his reality: of all the things he promised as a candidate, this was supposed to be the easiest. This was supposed to be his victory lap. This was supposed to be the first chapter of an epic Presidency. As I write this we have 1,326 days in his Presidency. It’s hard to imagine that it gets better from here.