It’s as if it isn’t a very Good Bill…

…and that maybe the GOP leadership is showing their lack of seriousness or something.

Via the NYT:  Health Care Overhaul Collapses as Two More Republican Senators Defect

 Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas declared on Monday night that they would oppose the Senate Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, killing for now a seven-year-old promise to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

The announcement by the senators, both Republicans, left their leaders two votes short of the necessary tally to begin debate on their bill to dismantle the health law. Two other Republican senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, had already said they would not support a procedural step to begin debate.


With four solid votes against the bill, Republican leaders were faced with two options: go back and try to rewrite the bill in a way that could secure 50 Republican votes, a seeming impossibility at this point, or do as Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, had promised and team with Democrats to draft a narrower, bipartisan measure to fix the flaws in the Affordable Care Act that both parties acknowledge.

And note:  my noting the lack of competence here is not about ideology or partisanship, as the “repeal and replace” mantra has been demonstrated to be utterly empty. even from a conservative point of view (however defined).  Now, if the only goal is cutting Medicare and taxes for the extremely wealthy, then the bill has some coherence.  However, if the goal is to address cost, coverage, or quality of health care in the US, not so much.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. MarkedMan says:

    (Copied from a different thread. I think it is germane)

    We are in danger of losing sight of something incredibly imporatant amidst all the drama that is total Republican governance: the modern Republican has no ability to govern. I’m not being clever or facetious here. In any given congress in days of yore there was a mixture of reps and senators that –

    a) Had coherent opinions and knew how to craft good legislation
    b) Had no opinions (followed the party line) and knew how to craft good legislation
    c) Had coherent opinions and looked to others to craft the legislation
    d) Had no opinions and looked to others to craft the legislation
    e) Had incoherent opinions and couldn’t legislate
    f) Were close to insane

    In the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s I would guess that a&b each had 5%, c had maybe 20%, d was about 50% and e had all but 1% of the remainder. Regardless of party.

    Today the Dems have all the legislative talent. Love it their acts or hate them, they make internal legislative sense, rules can be crafted for them, the rules can then be implemented and those rules generally work when enforced. There are no people left in the Republican congress that have any talent or capability. And they don’t even reach the starting point because they don’t have coherent opinions of any kind. Anyone who understands anything of how things work in the real world have been driven from the party five years ago or more. For a while, there was a scattering of Republicans with no coherent opinions but who knew how to legislate, but Boehner was the last of them and he was drummed out for being too realist. The entire Republican caucus in both houses fall into the d, e and f categories. If anyone challenges that, I point you to the incoherent mess that is Republi-care. Put aside that it is monstrous. It is completely incoherent. And yes, like several other major pieces of legislation offered by Republicans in the past couple of years, it makes basic mistakes in arithmetic that make the whole thing unworkable. Even if you accept their goals (which I’m not sure you can, because they are, well, incoherent) this is a piece of legislation that would embarrass a high school civics class.

    The Republicans were elected from a pool of talent that could thrive in the ludicrous cesspool that is the conservative political-entertainment complex. And once they were seen to be serious contenders they were feted and poofed by a bunch of billionaire frat boys that never got over their Ayn Rand hard on. Anyone with sense got out of politics or joined the Dems.

    Read more:

  2. An Interested Party says:

    So….let’s review the performance of Republicans since they took complete control of the federal government in January…they did get Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court and………..hmm, that’s about the only thing of any real substance that they’ve accomplished…just about everything else they’ve had a hand has been a failure…isn’t it amazing what they’ve done with control of the federal government? And if they have utterly failed with “repeal and replace” how are they going to get through any major legislation for their other priorities…

  3. Gustopher says:

    If it weren’t playing with fire, it would be nice for Democrats to vote to begin debate. Let them support their crappy bill in public.

  4. Kylopod says:

    Now, if the only goal is cutting Medicare and taxes for the extremely wealthy, then the bill has some coherence. However, if the goal is to address cost, coverage, or quality of health care in the US, not so much.

    Since Obamacare was passed, the number of uninsured has been reduced by roughly 20 million people. Trumpcare is estimated to increase that number by about the same amount. If that isn’t “repealing Obamacare,” then I don’t know what is. Sure, it doesn’t literally remove the regulatory structure of the original law, but in essence it destroys the law’s most significant achievement.

    Of course it doesn’t “address cost, coverage, or quality of health care in the US,” but that was never what “repealing Obamacare” ever could have plausibly entailed. From the beginning, it was all an attempt to sugarcoat what was essentially an evil and morally unjustifiable goal that the vast majority of voters would reject in a heartbeat if its advocates were honest about what they hoped to achieve.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    The original sin here was McConnell’s decision to oppose anything Obama did. As a result they fought Obamacare tooth and nail, lying at every step. They committed to repeal and replace with something better a “terrible” piece of legislation that was actually about as good as is possible is 21st century America. They particularly attacked the taxes and mandate necessary to make it work. They wrote a check with their mouths that their asses can’t cash. But the base demands they make good on their stupid promises.

  6. Mister Bluster says:

    “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate,” Trump tweeted. “Dems will join in!”


  7. Kylopod says:

    @Mister Bluster: Upvoted for linking to Judge Doom rather than Miss Gulch.

  8. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kylopod:..I guess it’s too late to do a SPOILER ALERT!

  9. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Well, it’s not like they had much time…all they had was SEVEN FREAKING YEARS!!!!!!!

  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    So once again, Republicans run by promising the voters something they can’t possibly deliver, which leaves them unable to actually accomplish anything without committing career suicide. So they decide to create a manufactured crisis for the next congress in hopes of forcing themselves to jump on the grenade between now and then. Since no one actually wants to do that, nothing will be down over the next two years, but they will still be surprised when it blows up in their face like sequestration, the debt ceiling, etc.

    The Republican legislative strategy is basically the scene in Blazing Saddles where Sheriff Bart takes himself hostage to get away from an angry racist mob (in this metaphor, the angry racist mob is the Republican voters, although I guess that’s too literal to be a metaphor).

  11. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The scene with Bart is a stretch, I’d suggest Gabby Johnson spouting authentic frontier gibberish.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    The immediate danger comes if the Republicans start working with the Dems. I said some time ago that the Senate could lose 7 or so hyperconservatives and gain more than that number of Dems. The house could afford to lose 20 or 30 and gain back more than that number of Dems. The legislation would no doubt be abysmal and cruel, but they could get it passed.

    But for historical reasons, the Republicans have accepted it as biblical truth that they cannot rely on a single Democratic vote to pass their most important legislation. Steven, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this unique in our history?

  13. @MarkedMan:

    Steven, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this unique in our history?

    I can say this: we are in a period of acute polarization and that is reflected in the lack of bipartisanship in legislation.

    Also, you may be thinking of the “Hastert Rule” in the House in terms of GOp behavior.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    I think there were three fateful decisions by Republican leadership that led them to this surreal place where they control Congress and the Presidency but are unable to actually govern. The Hastert Rule, as you mentioned (and which is now interpreted much more severely than Hastert’s original intention), the Southern Strategy, and Gingrich’s 50% + 1 vote policy. Over time they inevitably led to an opposition party that actively drove out realistic people capable of achieving real goals (good or bad), and that in turn meant that once they achieved power they would be unable to govern.

    FWIW, I wrote a fairly long post on the Southern Strategy, or, more specifically, Republican Senator Jacob Javits’ warnings about what would happen to the Republicans and to the country if they went willingly down that path. He was eerily prescient.

  15. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Actually, if you listen to Limbaugh, Levin, and the other usual subjects from the sociopathy conservative echo chamber, “you can’t work with the Democrat Party because you can count on them to go back on their agreements” is a pretty standard line and it’s been around long enough for even Senators and Congresscritters to hold it as an article of faith. It may even be part of the origins of the Hastert Rule.

  16. @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: Yes, there’s that, too. There was a time when all of that talk radio ranting was just that. Now it is standard operating procedure for people in office. This is much of the problem.

  17. Tony W says:

    I, for one, am sick to death of Republican victimhood and inability to take responsibility for their own actions. They control all three branches of government but they can’t pass a healthcare/tax cut law – and it’s the Democrat’s fault somehow. Trump’s illegal executive orders get stopped by the courts, and it’s somehow not his fault for signing the thing and tweeting about his true intentions. The administration literally colludes with a hostile foreign government and blames the “liberal media” for a “witch hunt”.

    Ann Coulter, FFS, has been screaming all week because she got moved from one seat to another on an airplane flight.

    These people are shameless