Good morning, Spartans. I’d like to try to get us away from the depressing topic of France for awhile, and swing things back to domestic politics.
We’ll start with a question: is the below excerpt kabuki theater to depress opposition to the health care bill or not?
“The House bill is not going to come before us,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that the Senate would be “starting from scratch.”
The Republican split screen on health care revealed the frothing debate within the party about how to gut aspects of the Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010 and whose demise has been promised by the Republican Party to its conservative base.
A growing number of Senate Republicans are recasting President Trump’s Rose Garden celebration after the House vote as a mere starting point due to anxiety over how the House bill would affect Medicaid recipients in their states, insurance costs for people with conditions such as diabetes or cancer, or the breadth of health benefits in states that would be able to jettison current federal insurance requirements.
The seemingly divergent political positioning on display Sunday underscored the fragility of the Republican Party on an issue that has galvanized it for years. Senate Republicans, generally more centrist in their politics, do not feel compelled to herald the House bill. But House Republicans and White House advisers, who are more skittish about fraying the relationships they have cultivated with House conservatives and activists, do not want to shelve or play down the bill that just passed.
My answer is “No, I think these divisions are very real.” There has always been a significant portion of the Republicans which supported Obamacare as it was passed and don’t want any changes made to it for ideological reasons. These people are also unhappy with the Trump presidency and eager to act as an unofficial opposition party.
On the opposite end of things, there’s also a few Senators such as Cruz and Paul who are both interested in running for president and burnishing their conservative credibility as a means to do that. These men have massively outsized influence in the party because they are the only ones bothering to represent the party’s voters, which most of the leadership finds embarrassing and would prefer to ignore.
Furthermore, Ryan’s bill was defeated in the House twice before a third push finally got it through. So there are deep divisions and misgivings among the Republican leadership that are very real. While I think McConnell is a more effective leader than Paul Ryan, I am dubious the health care bill will make it through the Senate.