Republican failure is a victory for the American people, particularly those who can’t get health care and have depended upon the Affordable Care Act for life-saving insurance. For no reason other than a burning desire to repudiate the signature accomplishment of President Barack Obama, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina pushed on after a couple of miserable failures to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”
But by the admission of leading Republicans, the latest effort has failed, and that’s good. Especially for the 30 million or so Americans who would have been left without health insurance had Graham’s mean-spirited, short-sighted proposal succeeded.
This was one of the worst pieces of legislation in recent history, in which states would have lost Medicaid money and gotten block grants to help people with health insurance. In some states, there would have been a real effort to help people in need. But in others, probably including North Carolina where Republicans have shown a disregard for the poor and middle class, coverage would have been uneven at best.
President Trump, who couldn’t care less about policy but just wants a “win” for his legislative agenda, promptly attacked opponents of Graham’s ridiculous idea, including Graham’s close friend, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who would not support the bill. Trump lashed out at McCain, who is battling brain cancer but continuing to work. The president’s behavior was rebuked by leading Republicans, with whom he is rapidly losing support.
The GOP needs to forget this fight and try to move on to more constructive legislative efforts such as investment in infrastructure. As it stands, Republicans are rather like the few thousand Southerners who kept fighting the Civil War after Robert E. Lee had surrendered. The abolition of Obamacare has been a fruitless and wasteful fight that has accomplished nothing.
If GOP leaders could get past the hatred of Obama that is driving them, they could improve and repair those parts of the ACA – such as lowering drug prices – that need attention and really accomplish something, in a bipartisan way, for the American people. It is a pity they cannot see the political benefit to them – forget Trump, who has certainly forgotten them – in doing something positive on health insurance instead of indulging their resentment of a successful Democratic president.
This has been marked by curious irony. Republicans who backed this horrendous destruction of Obamacare seemed completely unaware that public sentiment favors the ACA. They ignored demonstrations to that effect, town hall meetings in which constituents made it clear where they stand, and common sense suggestions from some in their own party to give up this fight. But they charged on, and now Graham, who seemed to have a pretty safe seat in South Carolina, may have put himself at political risk, and other Republicans may have done the same. They’ve set themselves up to be wildly criticized by their president, who’ll blast them for their failure, and by Democratic opponents, who’ll blast them for abandoning the poor and middle class.