Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Opinion: Seven years of fantasy crashes to the ground

For seven years, Washington Republicans have promised us over and over again that they had a plan to replace Obamacare. For those seven years, they never did the hard work, the debate, the policy construction, the consensus building both in Washington and around the country that would be needed to pass such a plan.

Today, on the seventh anniversary of the signing of Obamacare into law, they began to pay the price for those seven wasted years.  Republicans control the House, they control the Senate and they hold the White House, yet with the postponement of a House floor vote long scheduled for Thursday they have proved themselves incapable of taking even the first basic step in implementing their vision.

They don't have the votes because they have no vision. Fantasies, but no vision. They have no vision because they lacked the political discipline and leadership to build that vision. They built a powerful political movement on hatred of Obamacare with no real idea of what they would do with power should they gain it.

They railed that Obamacare left 20 million uninsured, knowing full well that their own plan would more than double that number. They complained about high deductibles, hiding the fact that what plans they did have were founded upon deductibles that were even higher. They talked of saving Medicaid, always avoiding the reality that their plan to "save it" was to gut it.

And people have noticed.

Look at the numbers in the most recent Quinnipiac poll:

Just 17 percent of Americans support the GOP plan. More than three times as many say they oppose it. Even among Republicans, just 41 percent support their party's plan. In another question, just 33 percent say they want to end support for Planned Parenthood. An enormous 85 percent of Americans say it is very important to them that "health insurance be affordable for all Americans," while another 13 percent call it somewhat important.

That's 98 percent, yet the Republican plan represents a huge step back from that goal, not by accident but by design. And again, people have noticed.

Last week, a gleeful House Speaker Paul Ryan celebrated the plan's dramatic, $880 billion reductions in Medicaid. “We’ve been dreaming of this since I’ve been around ― since you and I were drinking at a keg,” he told Rich Lowry, editor of National Review.

Here's what the American people have to say about that goal, again quoting Quinnipiac:




Just 22 percent share Ryan's keg dream of gutting Medicaid. Just 39 percent of his fellow Republicans think it's a good idea. Yet in the minds of Ryan and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, that's a core accomplishment of their bill.

Even if they somehow shove this bill through the House, they know that if and when the legislation comes back from the Senate it will be considerably more moderate, and considerably more unacceptable to conservatives. What a complete and total mess.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.