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What Is Paul Ryan Doing?

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RyanCare has generated intense opposition from those who hate it because it takes health insurance away from millions of people to pay for upper-class tax cuts. But RyanCare has also gone over like a lead zeppelin among many members of the faction who do think it’s a good idea to take health insurance away from millions of people to pay for upper-class tax cuts. While some of the opposition from the right was inevitable, it’s strange that he couldn’t get conservative think tanks onboard. One possibility is that he’s not a competent legislative leader. Another possibility is that he’s fine with repeal failing:

What explains the depth of conservative opposition? One possibility is that we should, as Marco Rubio might put it, dispel with the myth that Paul Ryan knows what he’s doing. While some grumbling from House conservatives was inevitable, it’s odd that he couldn’t get buy-in from conservative organizations for a replacement plan. On its face, everything about this botched rollout seems like gross political incompetence.

Another, and perhaps more plausible, answer is that Ryan couldn’t possibly be this inept. He didn’t get his allies on board for a simple reason: He doesn’t actually want any major repeal plan to pass.

This isn’t to say that Ryan would not, all things being equal, like to kill the Affordable Care Act. His entire political career has been devoted to attacking programs for the poor to pay for upper-class tax cuts. But now passing and maintaining tax cuts and achieving other crucial objectives means Republicans must keep control of Congress — and that’s where ACA repeal becomes a major political liability.

Now that it’s being seriously threatened, the ACA is popular. And as Greg Sargent of The Washington Post explains, passing RyanCare would almost certainly be a political disaster in the 2018 and 2020 elections. Marginal voters might favor “small government” and oppose the “government takeover of health care” in the abstract, but that doesn’t mean they won’t object to having their coverage taken away or made substantially worse.

Passing a health care bill that takes coverage away from voters would also complicate what will already be a difficult political situation for the Republicans. They’ve benefited from having the opposition control the White House during a time of gridlock, but now the shoe is on the other foot. The out party generally fares better in midterm elections to begin with. Even worse for Republicans, the popularity of the president is the best predictor of how the party will fare in congressional elections. And while Donald Trump was able to eke out an Electoral College win with a lot of help from an unpopular opponent and the FBI, he remains a very unpopular figure.

Whether Ryan is bad at his job or has already decided to bail out, the key point is that getting the votes for his cyanide sandwich is going to be very difficult. Democrats shouldn’t be complacent, but the chance for a yoooge substantive and political win is definitely there.

…it’s also hard to explain what McConnell is doing if he actually wants RyanCare to pass, and unlike Ryan we can be confident he knows what he’s doing as a legislative mechanic.

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  • DamnYankees

    I must admit I don’t understand this theory that Ryan doesn’t want or intend this to pass. It betrays everything we know about Ryan.

    What, exactly, does Paul Ryan want to do with the power he now has? He’s been in Congress for 18 years. He finally has a chance to implement an agenda he wants to implement. He’s the Speaker of the House with a majority in the Senate and a Republican in the White House. He’s been working to get to this position for most of his adult life.

    And he’s going to knowingly throw it away? There’s no chance. There’s no way he thinks he can propose this, have it fail, and then somehow the GOP is going to do so much better in 2018 that he’ll get to pass an even more aggressive bill. There’s just no way.

    I think the obvious answer is the obvious answer. Paul Ryan has found himself in a position he always hoped to be in, but he has no fucking idea what to do with it. He can’t possibly pass a bill that will satisfy hard core conservatives in the House and more moderate Republicans in the Senate. He can’t. But this is his attempt. And people are seeing this as being an obvious failure, and just assuming that Ryan must be smarter than that.

    Well…he’s not. He’s not smarter than that. He’s actually just dumber than people (present company excluded of course) have been crediting him with. He has no better plan.

    • CP

      Yeah, I agree. There is no way in tartarus he doesn’t want to pass it. If he fails, it certainly won’t be for lack of will.

      • efgoldman

        If he fails, it certainly won’t be for lack of will.

        I… think… I… can… I.. think.. I.. can…. I. think. I. can…. I think I can….

        • N__B

          Little Blue Engine was friendly and kind. Paul Ryan would deliberately blow up her boiler.

        • Hogan

          you must say words, as long as there are any, until they find me, until they say me, strange pain, strange sin, you must go on, perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on

      • Alex.S

        It will be an interesting test of the “Green Lantern” theory of politics.

    • Captain Oblivious

      This.

      We must remember that he is SOTH because nobody else wanted the job.

      He is neither smart nor clever nor well-informed. He’s an anti-choice libertarian nut job who comes across as less nutty than most, which fools enough of the people enough of the time for him to convince some other not very bright people that he’s wonkish.

      All he’s good at is self-promotion.

      • CP

        Also helps, as with most conservative public figures, that it takes very little for the media to fall all over itself fluffing him.

        He may be good at self-promotion, but it doesn’t take very much to be good at self-promotion once you’re a leading conservative in Washington. The MSM will do most of the job for you.

        • Hogan

          Come to work on time, know your lines and don’t bump into the other actors.

      • Epsilon

        All he’s good at is self-promotion? Seems to be a lot of that going around lately. That just so happens to be the only thing the President* is good at, too!

        • CP

          There was somebody on, I think, Balloon Juice a few years ago who described what it was like teaching students doing their MBA, and saying that one of the most frequent thoughts he had when listening to them talk was “you have absolutely no grasp of what you’re talking about, but good God can you sell it!”

          Seems to be the modern business/political class in a nutshell.

      • efgoldman

        which fools enough of the people enough of the time

        Most of “the people” neither know nor care who he is.
        “The people” he fools enough of the time are the Villagers of the media.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        He is neither smart nor clever nor well-informed…All he’s good at is self-promotion.

        Yes, exactly this. He has convinced many people out there that he is some kind of genius, but even more importantly, he has convinced himself of this fact. When a guy who thinks that he is a genius acts in a way that makes him look like an idiot to damn near everyone else, there’s a good chance that it is a complete lack of self-awareness that is holding him back. See, for example, Cheeto Benito.

      • Dilan Esper

        He is neither smart

        This is quite wrong. Ryan is plenty smart.

        • Barry_D

          The weight of evidence was……………unimpressive.

        • witlesschum

          I’m willing to believe he’s smart, but being smart isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

        • Ithaqua

          There are different kinds of intelligence. I am willing to believe his social intelligence is extremely high. I have never seen any sign of logical or analytical intelligence. When he doesn’t have to deliver anything, he looks great, thanks to his social intelligence. When he does, he produces crap like this, because that’s the best he can do, and relies on his social intelligence to pull him through. In this case, it may well not be enough. Sometimes, you actually have to be good at things other than selling.

        • StellaB

          Good looking people are usually judged to be smarter than less attractive people.

          • petesh

            OTOH, there is the “airhead” stereotype. Applies to guys.

        • wengler

          I am so smart…I am so smart….I am so S-M-R-T…I mean I am so S-A-M-R-T

    • Domino

      I think Boehner spoke the obvious truth a week ago: Republicans have never agreed on healthcare. What held them together all these years is their opposition to a bill. Once that opposition went away, they fractures that were already there are no showing themselves.

      All the “Democrats in disarray” narratives, but none on “Republicans do not agree with each other on what needs to be done regarding healthcare”. They have spent no time trying to bring everyone together to has out an agreement that all sides could find palatable – instead it’s been “Obamacare is slavery”, and they rode that to notable electoral victories. But now they can’t run on that anymore, and they face the reality of not knowing how to proceed.

      • altofront

        Republicans have never agreed on healthcare.

        It’s even more basic than that: most of them don’t give a shit about healthcare. It’s not that they hold diverse opinions about the best way to manage healthcare: most just don’t care.

        I wanted to conclude with: it’s like saying, “Democrats have never agreed on [something],” but I couldn’t come up with an issue that’s important to Republicans, conservatives, or anyone else that Democrats don’t hold opinions on. Tort reform, maybe? But you see the fundamental difference between the parties.

        • DamnYankees

          The thing is, there actually aren’t that many things which are important to Republicans in an of themselves. It’s a party of reactionaries, so almost anything they believe will, by definition, have a counterpart that liberals care about, because that opposition is where their opinions come from in the first place.

          Oddly enough, I think a lot of Democrats don’t have very strong opinions about any particular form of tax cut. Democrats would be willing to strike deals on any given tax cut if they got something good in exchange.

        • Dilan Esper

          It’s even more basic than that: most of them don’t give a shit about healthcare. It’s not that they hold diverse opinions about the best way to manage healthcare: most just don’t care.

          No, actually they don’t agree. Someone like Susan Collins probably thinks Obamacare was a pretty good idea but can’t say so. It was widely reported that Mitt Romney was ticked off that he could not brag about health care as an accomplishment in 2012, because he views it as one.

          There are also differences between the people who would like to reshape Obamacare in ways that would be less redistributive and people from the Freedom Caucus who are ideologically opposed to any government involvement.

          It’s also true that they don’t care all that much about the issue, but the disagreements are nonetheless real.

          • altofront

            No, actually they don’t agree. Someone like Susan Collins probably thinks Obamacare was a pretty good idea but can’t say so.

            Sure, among those who care there are disagreements. But I’ve seen little to convince me that most of them even consider it a problem that needs solving.

    • Aaron Morrow

      Hell, this may the “plan” that maximizes Republican votes.

    • altofront

      What, exactly, does Paul Ryan want to do with the power he now has?

      He wants to stay in power. I don’t think that’s the only thing he wants to do–I don’t think he’s like McConnell in that regard–but I would imagine that he thinks staying in power and finding other ways to impoverish the poor and enrich the rich is a good use of his time.

      He also wants to run for president.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I don’t think there’s any question that as a substantive matter Ryan would want this to pass. The question is whether he thinks it can pass now, or whether it can pass with an acceptable political cost.

      • DamnYankees

        I don’t think I understand your thesis.

        My position is that Paul Ryan put this bill out wanting it to pass and he actually thinks is the best shot he has to pass something. I think he’s wrong about that.

        You’re stating that Paul Ryan put this bill out wanting it to pass, but knowing it won’t and putting it out anyways because…why? That’s what I’m missing here. What is his master plan, exactly?

        • altofront

          On blogs like Redstate they call this sort of thing “failure theater”: it’s intended to placate the base by appearing to do something radical, while avoiding actually doing anything.

          Of course, Ryancare fails as failure theater because what’s proposed isn’t all that radical. In this regard, he would be better off by doing something that the Freedom Caucus would get behind, secure in the knowledge that it will collapse in the Senate.

          Why didn’t Ryan do that? I’m guessing it was because of Trump: the greatest theater to Ryan’s power is Trump positioning himself against the House leadership.

          • DamnYankees

            Exactly this. If this is theater, it’s backwards. Theater would mean you propose an incredibly hard line bill, pass it in the House and have it die in the Senate. Then you can tell your constituencies you tried, after which you come back with a more moderate bill, which the HFC might vote for (since they already had the vote they wanted, what is there to complain about) and which the Senate might pass.

            • nemdam

              Right, which makes me think Paul Ryan wants this to pass but is just an idiot. He’s read too many press clippings that he is a serious policy wonk so he thought he could bunker up in the basement and come up with a genius plan that everybody would like. Not even close.

              A smart person who wants the bill to pass would get buy in from all constituents like the Dems did with the ACA. Ryan did not do this. A smart person who doesn’t want the bill to pass but just wants to grandstand passes a much more ideological bill that pleases the base. Ryan did not do this. Since there’s really no other reason to try to pass legislation, Ryan has failed any possible objective.

              With this stunt, I now view Paul Ryan as the most pathetic Republican in Washington.

              • alexceres

                He can’t do what the Dems did because he doesn’t have a year to pull all the stakeholders together. He needs to pass something soonish, and that’s blow up American health industry fast or do it slow. This is trying to do it slow over 3 years, so low information voters don’t realize how fucked they were in 2017 when they vote in 2018 and lose their heath care in 2019

                Also, health care is 17% of the economy. Fucking it up has huge risks of massive political costs for reasons entirely unrelated to health coverage of poor people

                • busker type

                  I think you’re really getting at something here… he’s trying to work the timetable to minimize the electoral fallout.

          • altofront

            the greatest theater to Ryan’s power

            That should read, “the greatest threat to Ryan’s power.” What Trump needs is a bill that can act as a fig leaf on his egregious lies about his healthcare plan. If all Ryan gave him was a hardcore repeal bill, Trump would start tweeting about how Ryan is ignoring his directives, it’s all Ryan’s fault if Obamacare isn’t replaced with something fabulous, the House needs a change in leadership, etc., etc.

          • Dilan Esper

            On blogs like Redstate they call this sort of thing “failure theater”

            If Redstate came up with that I will give them some credit. It’s definitely a real thing politicians do. Don’t know if Ryan is doing it here, though.

        • efgoldman

          he actually thinks is the best shot he has to pass something. I think he’s wrong about that.

          This is actually a symptom if the nutters’ wider problem: Politics/governing is about compromise (see DamnYankees above – Dems would accept tax cuts if they got something important back) and they have hard, uncompromising positions on any number of issues, including healthcare. The kkkrazy kkkaukus will accept nothing less than full repeal, but (slightly) more politically astute Republiklowns understand the risks of doing that. They don’t care about healthcare per se, they care about getting re-elected.

      • aaronl

        Perhaps the idea is that by ripping off the band-aid early, and postponing some of the worst damage until after the midterms, they can claim credit for “repealing and replacing” the PPACA and, when people complain, point at Trump.

    • Jonas

      Agreed. Say what you want about the Obamacare negotiations, getting buy in from all Democrats in advance was key to getting the bill passed. If you are trying to get a bill that is all things to all people, but don’t talk to all people, you get a bizarre pseudo compromise that no one likes, instead of a Rube Goldberg construct like Obamacare, that while not perfect, people can live with. But the only way Republicans can pass anything is if they do it so quickly that ordinary people don’t realize that they will lose in the process, so the secrecy and speed are integral to getting this piece of crap passed. Ryan promised something instead of Obamacare and I think he is convinced that this is his best chance at something.

      • altofront

        Agreed. Say what you want about the Obamacare negotiations, getting buy in from all Democrats in advance was key to getting the bill passed.

        I always wonder about the contempt that the Republican leadership display to much of their caucus. The message here is, “you may not like the bill, but we’re betting you’ll vote for it because you’re afraid of your constituents.” I can’t imagine the Democrats proceeding in a similar vein.

    • What, exactly, does Paul Ryan want to do with the power he now has?

      Keep it. He’s not as pure-hearted as he sometimes seems. His job isn’t simply to starve granny because her poverty proves that she’s wicked, but to get her money to Mr. Koch.

      Sure, he has a vocation, but it’s strictly to lower taxes for the wealthy and deregulate their industries. The thing about ACA is that repealing it won’t lower taxes, au contraire. He’s seen the secret CBO numbers on the previous draft of this bill and he knows it, if he didn’t know it before. And nothing he can write can pass in the Senate in any event. (I believe it can’t pass without reconciliation, and it can’t pass through reconciliation either unless they can get CBO to say it’s revenue-neutral.) I think Scott is going too far to say it’s deliberately sabotaging, I think it’s more he doesn’t care beyond hoping he isn’t made to look to stupid. (Too late, Paul!)

      • Aaron Morrow

        The thing about ACA is that repealing it won’t lower taxes, au contraire.

        Repealing the ACA with this bill will lower taxes for the upper class.

        It will have a net decrease on the deficit because it decreases spending on Medicaid and private health care subsidies while keeping the ACA Medicare spending cuts, but it sure as hell lowers taxes.

        (Apologies for the late post if that was sarcasm.)

    • DTIMG504

      Passage of Trumpcare will ensure that Paul Ryan won’t be the Speaker of the House in January 2019. Gerrymandering won’t save the GOP from that electoral backlash.

      Why would he want that?

    • Shalimar

      I don’t think it is necessarily Ryan’s fault that he can’t get agreement from hundreds of special snowflakes who were elected with the notion that Republicans don’t compromise, ever, even with each other. They all have a vision of what eliminating Obamacare should be like, and the members of the caucus concerned about winning general elections are never going to sign on to something those who are just crazy or concerned only with winning primaries can accept, and vice-versa.

      Ryan desperately wants to pass something, but there is nothing House Republicans are capable of agreeing on.

  • Thrax

    Not sure that a bad repeal plan that fails is in fact the least bad political option. The base will be pretty enraged if Obamacare survives and is not likely to be enthusiastic about turning out for the 2018 midterms. Assuming that most of the House rank-and-file are forced to vote for it, and it goes down because not enough Senate Republicans support of it, it’ll set up some pretty effective general election TV ads against House Republicans in swing districts. (“Congressman X voted to let insurance companies jack up your premiums just because you lost coverage for a few months.”) So it could be the worst of both worlds: supporters are mad because Obamacare is still in place, and Democrats are motivated to vote against Republicans who voted for this terrible bill.

    To be sure, Ryan doesn’t have a lot of good options, and one good thing about this approach is that it’s a long time until the midterms, and the base’s current discontent may wane when there’s other hot-button stuff between now and then. But if you can’t turn out the base in a midterm, you’re sunk.

    • Derelict

      Has the base abandoned the GOP because it has never delivered on outlawing abortion? Or because the gays can get married? Has the donor class abandoned the GOP because it has never delivered on repealing the Estate Tax, or eliminating corporate taxes?

      Ryan could come out tonight and proclaim Obamacare is the bestest thing since sliced bread in a bag, and the base would still vote Republican.

      • DamnYankees

        Did it abandon them? No. But they didn’t show up to vote in the one midterm election we’ve really had to test this thesis, which is 2006.

        If that happens again I’ll be satisfied.

      • Jon_H11

        Exactly. They could have introduced Obamacare with a tough Cadillac tax, mandatory medicaid expansion, and a medicare buy in option and the base would still vote Republican. They operate under brainwashed tribalism, nothing else.

        • Chetsky

          Ehh… sure they’ll vote R in the general … primaries are a different thing. As whats-his-name Cantor can attest.

    • CP

      The best action, from a purely political POV, would be to make an essentially meaningless change to the ACA, call if “Trumpcare,” pass that, and claim they’ve repealed Obamacare. Everybody wins: our voters notice that the insurance they care about is still there, their voters get to celebrate that they’ve stuck it to the Kenyan Usurper. They can head into the next couple elections with their base happy and energized, and ours deprived of one of its biggest outrages to rally around.

      Of course, that implies that Paul Ryan and the rest don’t care about anything other than getting reelected, and I don’t think that’s true. (Besides, their egos and political tribalism would prevent them from admitting that the ACA works in the first place).

      • Thrax

        I was just about to say something like this. Make a few cosmetic changes, triumphantly announce that Obamacare is gone, and declare victory. The trick is getting Fox News and talk radio to cover it as a big win, of course.

        • Domino

          That shouldn’t be hard. Although, as a fun experiment, I’m imagining Fox & Breitbart turning on Trump over the small, cosmetic, and non-noticeable changes to the law. Can you imagine? Trump wakes up in the morning and no longer can watch one channel that tells him what a wonderful job he’s doing – how quickly would he break?

      • Alex.S

        They are not going to get meaningless changes and a rename — the hard-right want a full repeal.

        They could probably get away with changes to portions of Obamacare and try to sell that. But the main targets there are the unpopular parts (mandate and taxes) and they would not want to be associated with the failure that comes next.

        But minor changes will be recognized as minor and the angry right-wing won’t like it.

        • Yes, the problem is that Ryan can’t make a deal with the Democrats, and he can’t make a deal with the hardliners. But he needs at least some votes from one of those groups to get repeal through.

      • Murc

        The best action, from a purely political POV, would be to make an essentially meaningless change to the ACA, call if “Trumpcare,” pass that, and claim they’ve repealed Obamacare. Everybody wins:

        Do they?

        I refuse to let the Republicans be able to claim the mantle of “we brung the people health care after the Dhimmicrats failed to do so.”

        • Scott Lemieux

          More to the point, the well-informed Republicans who organize primary campaigns, etc. wouldn’t buy it. Movement conservatives see this as being too squishy; the idea that you could pass a bill with 5% lower subsidies and everyone would be happy is quite clearly wrong.

          • DamnYankees

            Do you think there’s any world in which they just agree to this performance? Like, Paul Ryan gets in a room with the HFC and Ted Cruz and Rand Pau and says “we can’t pass anything, so I’ll take the hit and put out a squishy bill and you guys can go nuts denouncing it. I’ll be the bad guy, and then in a month we’ll pass our tax cuts.”

            Like, is this a real rift in the GOP? Or just a theatrical one?

            • randy khan

              It’s conceivable, but it’s a big bet to make.

      • They won’t, though. They could have done something similar with immigration, change the enforcement focus just a little bit, trumpet the numbers, and declare victory, but they didn’t, because they really are assholes, they really do enjoy ruining people’s lives and making them suffer. They want people to lose their healthcare and their homes and their lives, because there have to be winners and losers and that’s how they keep score.

        • Domino

          Further, I don’t think the Freedom Caucus would be satisfied with small, meaningless changes to the ACA. The ACA is tyranny that is the worst thing that has happened to the country – no way can he settle for anything short of full repeal!

          • Scott Lemieux

            Exactly. Not every member of the republican caucus is as cynical as McConnell; a lot of them believe this shit. As noted above, immigration is an excellent example.

            • Jon_H11

              But to them anything is better than the Democrats winning. Given the choice between abandoning their principles and letting the Dems take a victory lap, they would abandon them with gusto.

              • randy khan

                Yes and no. They’re also convinced that the ACA will collapse of its own accord (which potentially is true in an Administration that wants it to collapse), and then the Dems will have lost.

                I also think that many of the true believers are convinced that they will be rewarded electorally for being hard liners. I’m confident that’s true in the Republican primaries, and certainly it will be true for some of them in the general, but we’ll see how many of them might be punished in less than 100% safe districts.

                (As an aside, the electoral calculation for the hard liners seems pretty clear – they get basically same credit in the primaries for voting for full repeal whether or not it happens, and might actually be hurt in the primaries for voting for less than full repeal even if it passes – maybe *especially* if it passes – in the end. In the general, they’re going to get attacked either way, and the ads won’t really differentiate between a vote for full repeal or for Obamacare light. So the best play is to stick to their guns and insist on full repeal and lots of people dying because they don’t have health care.)

          • djw

            Yeah, I have *no idea* why anyone would think Ryan has the votes for this strategy.

        • CP

          They could have done something similar with immigration, change the enforcement focus just a little bit, trumpet the numbers, and declare victory, but they didn’t, because they really are assholes, they really do enjoy ruining people’s lives and making them suffer.

          Right. It’s not cynical manipulation of voters’ fears for some other object, if it ever was. They really believe this crap.

        • Chetsky

          because there have to be winners and losers and that’s how they their base keep score.

          FTFY

      • DamnYankees

        Given the attitude you’re seeing from the House Freedom Caucus and Rand Paul and Mike Lee, I don’t see how this could work.

      • gmack

        If there were some easy option like this, why haven’t they done it?

        OK, I mean this as a rhetorical question. The problem the Republican face is that they actually don’t have any consensus on what they want to do vis-a-vis health care policy. They successfully made political hay running against Obamacare, but now that they have power, the fissures in the party are now deeper and harder to paper over than they were before.

        So to answer my own question, the reason why they can’t do some “minor” tweak (be specific: what tweak could they have consensus on?) and rename the program is that this would not be acceptable to large parts of the party. Full repeal isn’t acceptable to other parts of the party. And Ryan’s efforts to square that circle simply make all of these differences vivid, as different parts of the party hate his proposal for different reasons.

      • efgoldman

        that implies that Paul Ryan and the rest don’t care about anything other than getting reelected, and I don’t think that’s true.

        Oh, I think it is. The prime directive is always re-election.

        • weirdnoise

          At this point they are more interested in appeasing their donors (Kochs, et al) than their voters. They can’t fool them with cosmetics and salesmanship. Their best hope is to please them and that whatever stink rises will dissipate once campaigns for 2018 start in earnest.

          But Ryan is instead trying to split the baby.

    • The base will be pretty enraged if Obamacare survives

      It’s not clear to me that the “base” is anywhere near as united as this statement would have it. I think that is the point being made in the article linked to in the original post. Think about it: if the “base” were solidly behind repeal, would there now be any Republican equivocating about whether or not to ram it through?

      • Captain Oblivious

        The base doesn’t care about Obamacare, except when they lose their coverage. They care about god, guns, gays, fetuses, and white privelege.

        That’s not to say that this issue won’t matter in the 2018 midterms. But it won’t affect the Republican primaries at all.

        • If this issue “won’t affect the primaries at all”, it follows that Republicans will not be “primaried” if they fail to repeal the ACA.

          If the argument is that ACA repeal wouldn’t affect primaries, I wouldn’t be so sure about that. We are so used to thinking that the Republican “base” prefers extremists to moderates that the very idea of extremist Republicans being toppled seems impossible – yet that is what recently happened in Kansas.

          And while Republican base voters sure would worry about losing coverage, they might also not be so keen on their local hospital closing down. Yet it seems repeal threatens a lot of rural hospitals and clinics.

          • efgoldman

            that is what recently happened in Kansas.

            The RWNJ that got croaked in Kansas was over a single issue: He was a True Believer who voted against a routine farm bill – in a farm district. His replacement is every bit as kkkrazy, but with a little more common sense.

            • Mellano

              Republican hardliners also finally started bleeding votes in the Kansas legislature IIRC. It took a full term or so of Governor Brownback’s LLC bonanza, but the less than fully extremist voters cracked.

      • CP

        The problem with an ideology like conservatism is always that at some level, the ideology clashes with the reality in a way that even their voters notice.

        This happened, IIRC, both times that they tried to repeal Social Security (eighties and 2000s) – and ran into a wall of public opposition. Even in red states and even among people who in general love to grouse about the gub’mint and how a libertarian utopia would manage everything so much better… once the actual prospect of losing Social Security was staring them in the face for real, they blinked.

        Be nice if they could take that experience and learn to extrapolate from it to bigger themes in politics in general, but of course, the “say hi to reality” realization never goes that deep.

        • DamnYankees

          This is true, and I think it will hold up here. But there is a big difference in tactics, in that the GOP had not spend 1996-2004 in a constant state of rhetorical war against the very idea of Social Security. They didn’t run on it, they didn’t villify it. They wanted to “fix it”, sure, but it wasn’t a talismanic object of hatred. So it’s not shocking they couldn’t muster the political will to undo it.

          The ACA is different, and just flatly more embarrassing for them. They’ve spend an entire decade railing against it. And they still have nothing. It’s just pathetic.

          • CP

            True. It’s why, like I said just below, I still think the chances of them repealing it are still better than the chances of them not repealing.

            I just didn’t think they’d be in this much disarray.

      • Alex.S

        The base has been told for the last 6+ years that the Republican party has a super awesome plan that will give cheaper health care to more people.

        It was an explicit promise during the 2016 campaign and repeated a few weeks ago.

        At the very least, they are expecting that their current health insurance will be cheaper because all the health care increases from the last 8 years were due to Obamacare.

    • Murc

      Not sure that a bad repeal plan that fails is in fact the least bad political option. The base will be pretty enraged if Obamacare survives and is not likely to be enthusiastic about turning out for the 2018 midterms.

      This might just be me, but… assuming the ACA survives, I’m predicting a rather sharp pivot on it relatively soon thereafter.

      Back in the 60s the GOP was beating the “Medicare is Communist Slavery” drum real real hard. Within ten, fifteen years they didn’t want to talk about it anymore, and within thirty years they were the staunch defenders of Medicare (Bush ran on and implemented a Medicare expansion that was a half-assed giveaway to drug companies but was still sold as a Medicare expansion) and within forty were going “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”

      The ACA is eventually going to have the same arc if it can live long enough. If its still here in 2028 the Republican nominee for President will be shocked and outraged that the perfidious lieberals are claiming his party ever wanted to do away with it. After all, it was based on one of their health care plans from the 90s! You libs couldn’t even come up with your own plan!

      • CP

        I think this is why, as that article said yesterday, the Kochs and their affiliates are in full-on panic mode and pushing their associates to repeal Obamacare NOW NOW NOW. They now full well that if it’s this popular now, it’ll be outright untouchable in another decade, just like Social Security and Medicare. They’re afraid this is their last shot.

        That’s also why I still think it’s slightly better-than-even odds that they do repeal it, or at least enough of it to be crippling – they’re all fanatically emotionally invested in this, they know this level of control of government is something they need to use while they have it, and there’s no target anywhere that’s as clear as the ACA. The pressure to do something is tremendous, and when pressured from right and left, their natural preference is always to side with the right anyway.

        • sigaba

          The people who run the Kochtopus don’t run for office, over the long term I’m sure they’re willing to trade dozens of House seats and a possible loss of the speakership for a full repeal. The members themselves not so much.

          I interpret the Ryan plan as being superficially similar enough to the ACA in concept that Republicans can message about “access” and “freedom”, but that it’s set up to be a failure and inadequate. Ryan knows he can’t get to where he wants to be from where he is, but this is a stepping stone, it’s on the path and it’s purpose isn’t to actually provide healthcare for people, but to lay the groundwork for further voter cynicism.

          What Ryan really wants is for health care to be off the table politically, forever, so that votes don’t matter, and the way to do that is to bring the current system to some sort of crisis and to lay the whole thing at the feet of government; it doesn’t matter if it’s the ACA or the AHCA that done it, all that matters is it’s a failure. He wants the CW to be “government regulation of health care was an experiment that failed,” and if this passes it’ll get him pretty close to that goal.

        • tahfromslc

          Yes, but we are forgetting Trump’s inner circle. I think it brought tremendous pressure on Ryan to do something (rather than Trump proposing a bill). He has done so, badly. This allows Trump to veto it. Bannon wins. I really do think it may be as simple as this. Certainly Breitbart is dissing the bill. All of this is also to say that none of them give a shit other than advancing their dominance politics.

      • DamnYankees

        I will be curious to see how this goes, given that the thing is literally called Obamacare. It wouldn”t shock me if that idiotic naming convention actually prevented this pivot from happening. I don’t think them all of the sudden just calling “the ACA” is going to dig them out of that hole.

        • CP

          True. But it helps that literally no one in the Republican voter base has the foggiest idea what “Obamacare” is. It’s just a catch-all phrase they use for “things having to do with health care that I don’t like.” By now, they probably blame Obamacare every time they have to pull over to let an ambulance drive by.

        • lunaticllama

          I think they have already started down this road. There are Republicans now saying that Obamacare is a subset of the ACA.

    • wengler

      2 years = more and more Republicans that have passed off the mortal coil. The Republican base is literally dying off.

    • Manny Kant

      The base will be pretty enraged if Obamacare survives and is not likely to be enthusiastic about turning out for the 2018 midterms.

      Sunk cost – the base won’t be enthusiastic for the midterms, regardless. Repeal energizes the other side.

  • Derelict

    Don’t forget that there is a large contingent of the GOP that truly believes NOBODY should have health insurance or health care unless they can pay for it as individuals. That includes our new Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has advocated for abolishing employer-provided health insurance and thinks balance billing should be legal.

    Based on their words, deeds, and policies, I must conclude that most Republicans think there isn’t nearly enough suffering in the world, and that the only proper role of government is to take whatever steps necessary to increase suffering.

    • Tony Pius

      I didn’t get this either, until Rick Perlstein explained it to me:

      No conservative politicians are losing sleep over this. Instead, they judge themselves heroes. Waylaying their constituents’ ability to avail themselves of federally subsidized healthcare is not a “moral conundrum” for them. It is a deeply moral project. The immorality, as they see it, would be to allow people to become dependent on the state for their health.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        The dead are incredibly free of dependency on anything.

      • tahfromslc

        Hard to disagree with Rick. But not inconsistent with my post above.

    • howard

      just as a side note, i’d love to see us abolish employer-provided health insurance if we were really going to replace it with a single-payer or nationalized system: it’s ridiculous that as much time and energy is spent as it is for each and every company to have to deal with its own health-plan, and it’s ridiculous from a worker’s perspective to be dependent upon a full-time job for access.

      so it’s not price’s view on the employer-provided health insurance that’s what problematic about him; it’s more or less everything else.

      • randy khan

        A lot of companies would love single payer for just the reasons you mention.

        • The problem is that the businesses that would benefit the most from single payer — small businesses — are the ones that are the most likely to run by ideological opponents of single payer. Large corporations profit from being able to negotiate favorable rates that they can then pass on to their employees as a tax-free benefit, and it also helps discourage people from switching jobs.

          • randy khan

            Big companies would benefit a lot – most of them have significant infrastructure around health insurance, and would save quite a bit of money. But I agree that small business owners probably would oppose it.

      • Barry_D

        “…just as a side note, i’d love to see us abolish employer-provided health insurance if we were really going to replace it with a single-payer or nationalized system:…”

        Nah gana hap’n.

  • efgoldman

    Assuming Granny Starver feels that his seat is safe (I don’t know enough about WI politics even to guess) he’s got to decide which is least harmful: Passing the shit sandwich and costing millions of potential voters both money and insurance; or letting it fail and pissing off the mouth breather flying monkeys that vote in RWNJ primaries.
    OTOH, even if the house passes some version of the pig turd, it’s likely to fail in the senate.
    So who knows. The only constant is Tangerine Torquemada’s unpopularity/incompetence, dragging the whole party down.

    • Captain Oblivious

      GS’s seat is probably safe, but one of the byproducts of gerrymandering to gain seats is that you necessarily create a lot of seats that aren’t so safe.

      A lot of R-critters, especially from the blue and purplse states, could be in deep trouble in 2018, not because the red base is demoralized but because the blue base is fired up and getting organized at the local level (finally!).

      Ryan is trying to have it both ways. He’s trying to pass something that won’t get his more vulnerable members eaten alive in 2018 while convincing the teahadist nutjobs that he’s actually repealing “Obamacare”. However, this plan fails at both, beacuse it is so transparently awful.

      • Manny Kant

        Ryan’s district is not terribly safe at all. It’s apparently R+3.

    • Based on what I’ve seen of past election results in his district, his seat is pretty safe. It would take a Yuuuge swing indeed for him to lose in 2018.

  • Sly

    Another possibility is that no amount of competence will allow someone to effectively lead the gaggle of scoundrels and buffoons known as the House Republican Caucus.

    The real big winner in all this? John Boehner.

    • Rob in CT

      Well said.

    • JKTH

      I think this is it. It’s hard to navigate between the Let Them Die and Let Some of Them Die factions when the former really won’t give at all.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Especially when they can’t cooperate with Democrats, which means that neither faction has sufficient votes to pass a bill.

    • Anna in PDX

      I am leaning in this direction and remembering (with a fair amount of optimism) that this is what torpedoed the Social Security “Grand Bargain” back in 2009 or so.

      I also think a lot of the Pain Caucus are deeply cynical. Sure they want people to suffer, but they also want to have an issue that they can’t win, so they can consistently use outrage to garner votes. This is what they do on abortion, and why they may not even want to repeal Roe Vs. Wade. When anger is the main thing that turns out your base, do you want to solve anything so they won’t be mad about it anymore?

    • tsam

      All the good new is supposed to be for John McCain, tho. NOW WHAT?

      • Scott Mc

        Well, even the bad news helps John McCain. Surely this does as well.

  • Cutting their losses, letting ACA repeal die, and focusing on priorities that won’t generate waves of intense opposition from all sides is probably the least bad political option for the GOP.

    This strikes me as basically correct, especially since Ryan and company are the type who think half the purpose of being in power is staying in power. ACA repeal could cost them bigly, ditto his beloved plans to cut Medicare and trash Social Security. I can see arguments in favor of his being both inept (he’s always needed Pelosi to pass anything meaningful) and apathetic (he’ll take what cuts to the poor he can in between $300 bottles of wine), but it doesn’t really matter which he actually is.

    • kped

      That’s not true though. ACA repeal was part of his tax reform plan. He needs this in order to enact a permanent tax cut via reconciliation. Without it, the best he can do is a 10 year Bush sunset cut, and they are desperate for this to be permanent.

  • Cheap Wino

    He is a modern day Republican. Always assume some combination of incompetency and stupidity and adjust as the facts present. Ryan hasn’t shown anything that says he’s not so I’m sticking with Mr. My 37-page plan is now a 66-page plan is not smart enough to come up with something better.

    • efgoldman

      Always assume some combination of incompetency and stupidity….

      And malice. Never forget the malice.

      • DrDick

        I always go with all of the above.

        • Barry_D

          100% of each.

  • kped

    I really think Ryan is this inept. Nothing he’s done has ever led me to believe he is a smart person with good instincts. He comes off as a person who thinks he is smart. And that is a very very different thing.

    And when he gets smoke blown up his ass, he doesn’t role his eyes and say “settle down guys, it wasn’t that good an idea”, he thinks “golly, even they think I’m the smartest. I really am special”. Then he twirls his propeller hat and eats paste.

    He is the emptiest suit in Washington. And that is a large crowd to choose from.

    • Anna in PDX

      Yes it is. Trey Gowdy, Jason Chaffetz, and many others are, I would argue, even dumber and even more into paste-eating.

      • kped

        Possibly…but those people aren’t told they are the smrtest big boy in the whole room like Ryan is, so they don’t have the matching ego to boot. Nor the “awe shucks, I really care about poor people” hang dog expression that Ryan has. He is such a dumb phony.

        • busker type

          Yes, yes, yes!
          Ryan Looks serious. That fact alone is responsible for 98% of his career.
          No one can look at Trey Gowdy and take him seriously.

  • The issue to me is all the other hijinks the Republicans are pushing while we’re focused on the APA replacement.

    • DamnYankees

      That’s sarcasm, right?

    • Hob

      Oh great, I know this game, can I play? If everyone would just ignore the ACA repeal and start focusing on what Jeff Sessions is doing at the Justice Department, then the real issue would be what the Republicans are trying to do to education while we’re focusing on Jeff Sessions like a bunch of suckers. So then we could all focus on education, and then real issue would be that while we’re focusing on education like a bunch of suckers, the Republicans are trying to repeal the ACA.

      • Caepan

        Now you’re on the trolley!

        Always remember – commenting on one subject addressed in a blog means OMG YOUR MISSING THE BIG PICTURE!!1!!1!!

      • Scott Lemieux

        All of this is a distraction from the most important issue, Hillary Clinton’s neoliberalism.

        • DamnYankees

          I think you misspelled “Tom Perez”.

        • tsam

          Yeah, we really dodged a bullet in this last election.

        • ap77

          Missed a golden opportunity here to say “email management practices” or something like that.

        • nemdam

          The people who do this “You’re missing the big picture!” now almost always use this against the Dems talking about Russia. But if you take it a step further, assuming the Russia stuff is real means acknowledging that the election was stolen from Hillary. So by extension, “You’re missing the big picture!” really does almost always boil down to “Hillary still sucks!”

          • The people who do this “You’re missing the big picture!” now almost always use this against the Dems talking about Russia.

            I never said that. But whatever. While you’re obsessing about a bill that is probably already dead on arrival, the Republicans have already rolled back 70+ regulations covering everything from labor protections to environmental safety. But, hey, keep fucking that chicken! Big picture!

            • ajay

              While you’re obsessing about a bill that is probably already dead on arrival, the Republicans have already rolled back 70+ regulations covering everything from labor protections to environmental safety.

              And you could have stopped them, Hob! You had that power! They were there, tearing up those regulations, always glancing over their shoulders and thinking “shit, I hope that one guy on a blog somewhere doesn’t find out what we’re doing and exercise his veto”. But you
              Didn’t.
              Even.
              Try.

              • My point is not to take away from the fight to protect the ACA. My point is that the Republicans are doing a pretty god job of torpedoing their effort to replace it all by themselves. So let’s just monitor the situation for now and turn our focus on the real damage they are slipping by while we’re arguing about the ACA. Merely a suggestion. If the Republican’s themselves don’t believe their plan will pass, then what’s their game? Because they always have a game.

  • keta

    It sounds like the executive and both House leaders all see this bill as at least a solid blueprint with which to replace the ACA, so perhaps the most significant question is – do we need more popcorn?

  • Murc

    While some of the opposition from the right was inevitable, it’s strange that he couldn’t get conservative think tanks onboard.

    I don’t think it can be overstated how deeply weird this actually is.

    Because this is just how the Republicans do things. For all that they want to repeal the New Deal and the Great Society, they have always been obligated to maintain a fiction that they’re actually working for the commonweal. They don’t say “we want tax cuts for the rich because the rich are your kings, you rabble” they say “tax cuts for the rich will turbocharge the economy and then you’ll ALL be rich and pay no taxes!”

    And a big part of that smokescreen is conservative think tanks, whose raison d’etre is coming up with fig-leaf programs and the intellectual justifications for them that let Republicans credibly claim they have conservative alternatives to old-school liberalism. Remember “the ACA is the Heritage Foundation plan!” canard from the Green Lantern crowd? The fact was that back in the 90s, the Heritage Foundation did in fact have a health care plan. It wasn’t one the Republicans were ever going to pass, but it at least gave them something to point to and say “See? We’re serious about getting people health care, only using the magic free market!”

    For Ryan to not get conservative think tank buy-in before unveiling this thing is deeply weird. It is, you would think, a no-brainer first step, because you can then deploy a lot of conservative “intellectuals” onto the talk show circuit and the news shows to make a big push on it. And there are still a lot of country club Republicans who expect the party to at least pretend like it has a positive rather than negative governing agenda. I mean, hell, the think tanks themselves like to pretend that; the people working there for the most part think they’re there to do serious policy development. (They’re wrong, but that’s their self-image.)

    • keta

      I wonder if the rush job isn’t an effort to mollify Trump. He’s obviously panting for some policy “wins,” and therefore riding Ryan et al. hard to get some scalps, pronto.

      • Murc

        If Ryan thinks that you can mollify Trump he’s an even bigger maroon than is supposed.

        People far more skilled with their brains and mouths than Paul Ryan have tried to mollify Trump to get what they want and it doesn’t seem to really work that well for’em. All that happens is Trump decides on a new shiny thing, or new reason to be mad, the next day.

        • tsam

          Agreed–Trump is all take and no give, and short of watching gladiator games with Muslims and liberals or some shit, he shan’t be mollified.

          It is strange that the right wing think tanks are doing the hands-off thing. Makes me wonder if that isn’t all choreographed. (No, I have no clue why they’d do that)

      • It seems the rush also has to do with the fact that the Republicans want to pass long-term tax cuts and other tax reforms, but to do that they’ve decided they need to do ACA repeal first.

        The trouble is, they can’t actually agree on how to do repeal. Ryan and McConnell simply don’t have big enough majorities to lose a significant number of Republican votes – and they’re not going to get Democratic votes. So it looks like they’ve cobbled together some half-baked proposal to show they’re at least trying to do something.

    • AMK

      I don’t think it can be overstated how deeply weird this actually is.

      These think tanks are front groups for the same few hundred very wealthy people who hate taxes. Ryancare repeals their taxes under Obamacare….so what’s wrong with Ryancare? That was probably Paul Ryan’s entire thought process as much as any liberal’s. He’s as surprised as anyone else.

  • Downpuppy

    Trying to do an ACA-like law without the money is impossible.

    This is a halfassed mess that will prove that.

    Version 2 will be Repeal & Let ’em Die

    • altofront

      Version 2 will be Repeal & Let ’em Die

      There are two problems with that approach, politically. First, all the “moderate” Republicans will go on record this round opposing Ryancare because of its limitations; there’s no way for them to vote for just a straight repeal after that. Second, “repeal now, replace later” only works if you can convince people (politicians, media, the general public) that you’ve got a better approach to healthcare all ready to go. If Ryancare is your best effort in that direction, no one will believe you.

      • Aaron Morrow

        there’s no way for them to vote for just a straight repeal after that

        I’ll bet at least one of the “moderate” Republicans who goes on record opposing this bill ends up voting for this very same bill.

        • Scott Mc

          Yes – relying on Susan Collins, Rob Portman, and the detestable Cory Gardner to follow through on voting against this has me quite worried. I forget who the 4th republiklown was.

          • I think Gardner is someone to watch though–because he’s super vulnerable for reelection.

            • potsherds

              As a constituent of his, I call one of his offices at least once a week. It makes me giddy to watch that empty suit with good hair get a deer in the headlights look and speak a nervous mile a minute whenever he’s trying to answer questions from reporters about how pissed Coloradans are.

              I’m truly looking forward to volunteering for his Democratic opponent in 2020.

              • Downpuppy

                I was only wrong about the pace

                Preznit Toddler is already moving on:

                I feel sure that my friend @RandPaul will come along with the new and great health care program because he knows Obamacare is a disaster!

          • busker type

            Also Shelley Moore Capito… everyone always forgets about Shelley Moore Capito

  • FMguru

    Meanwhile, our estimable President* weighs in, with this amazing platter of word salad:

    I think really that we’re going to have something that’s going to be much more understood and much more popular than people can even imagine. It follows the guidelines I laid out in my congressional address: a plan that will lower costs, expand choices, increase competition, and ensure health care access for all Americans. This will be a plan where you can choose your doctor, this will be a plan where you can choose your plan. And you know what the plan is, this is the plan. And we’re going to have a tremendous, I think we’re going to have a tremendous success. It’s a complicated process, but actually it’s very simple: It’s called good health care.

    We must go forward, not backward. Upward, not forward. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

    • JKTH

      Obamacare is a cancer on this fair country. It is the cancer and I am the…uh, what cures cancer?

      (Actually this sentence is far too coherent for Trump to say it).

      • CP

        Obamacare is a disease, a cancer of this planet, Morpheus. You are a plague, and we are the cure.

    • altofront

      It’s pointless even to mention this, but it’s not just that Ryancare would fail to do the things Trump lists: it mostly doesn’t even have policy language that would attempt to make them happen.

      • Cheap Wino

        At what point do lies become jabberwockyian nonsense?

        • altofront

          “When I use a word, it means exactly [email protected]#.”–Trumpty Dumpty

        • efgoldman

          At what point do lies become jabberwockyian nonsense?

          Oh, in about 1994.

    • howard

      what i especially like about these remarks is having said how “complicated” healthcare is a couple of weeks ago, trump now wants us to know that he’s on it, it’s back to “simple.”

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        A couple of weeks ago Trump thought it benefited him to say healthcare is complicated. Today he thinks it benefits him to say it’s simple.

        Tomorrow, who knows? Maybe he thinks it benefits him to say that healthcare is like a box of chocolates.

    • Scott Lemieux

      We can’t any longer play off black against old – young against poor. This country cannot house its houseless – feed its foodless. So vote once, vote tuh-wice, for Donald J. Trump… you middle-class honkies.

      • FMguru

        The politics of failure have failed. We need to make them work again.

        • FMguru

          I mean, he literally says: “This will be a plan where you can choose your plan. And you know what the plan is, this is the plan.”

          Trump’s hilariously limited (like, sixth-grade level) vocabulary is the funniest thing about him.

          • JKTH

            I almost did a spit-take at that line.

            • FMguru

              “Surfin’ Bird” but with the word “bird” replaced by “plan”

              • Internet, please make this happen.

          • Anna in PDX

            I went and checked this and found the White House transcript, the weird plan of a plan plan plan sentence was interspersed with (LAUGHTER) so maybe he was trying to make a funny?

            • There’s kind of a nervous chuckle in there; “(LAUGHTER)” is overstating it.

          • efgoldman

            Trump’s hilariously limited (like, sixth-grade level) vocabulary is the funniest thing about him.

            I had a better vocabulary than that in sixth grade. My kid and most of her friends did, too.

      • Taylor

        I got your Candidate right here!

    • sibusisodan

      Exhibit #4 in the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library.

    • Anna in PDX

      Wait did he say this today? I just can’t believe this guy, this sounds similar to stuff he said during the campaign. Also he sounds more and more like a parody of himself.

      Remember how Obama said you could keep your plan and got absolutely raked over the coals for months? This guy can say absolutely anything stupid and contradictory and no one can even keep up.

      • FMguru

        It’s from today. TPM has the gruesome details.

        • Anna in PDX

          Thanks, I actually went and found the white house transcript and it is real, wow. He is such a buffoon. All my friends are missing not just Obama’s oratory skills but those of GWB.

    • farin

      something that’s going to be much more understood…than people can even imagine

      What fresh epistemological hell is this.

  • thispaceforsale

    How does America get back to a place where the national gop has the ability to govern? And by governing, involving anything other than destroying/rolling back previous legislation or acting in the best interests of clear majorities.
    Whatever Ryan’s thinking, his plan, his ability, the republican party is a failed state. Are there are republicans that could rebuild the party in an eisenhower/george romney tradition?

    • sigaba

      How does America get back to a place where the national gop has the ability to govern?

      Cold War with existential threat, it seemed to be the secret sauce that focused them. Or, we simply repeal the New Deal and everything after that. Do that and they will govern.

      The GOP simply don’t want to rule a country with Social Security, Medicare, a competent federal bureaucracy, and where liberal internationalism is the prevalent foreign policy. They were willing to tolerate these things as long as they were helping the war with Communism, but without that, and almost immediately after that was off the table, they snapped back to empire and Mellonism, with “culture war” replacing the moral panics of the 1920s: Prohibition, birth control and “white slavery.”

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      The weaknesses of Republican politicians are mostly reflective of the weaknesses of Republican voters.

      Until crazy people no longer are the majority who control the Republican Party, there will be no rebuilding.

  • ap77

    Ultimately, I think this may have a good chance at passing. GOP blowhards in Congress will fall in line, they almost always do. And even though the bill is garbage, Trump will say it’s wonderful, fantastic, the greatest, and effectively all Republican voters will believe him because they’re fucking idiots.

    • tsam

      I don’t know–those hard right motherfuckers gave Boehner a hell of a time, and he appeared to be better at this than Ryan is.

      • Aaron Morrow

        But will they do the same thing to Trump?

        • tsam

          I don’t think Trump has to eat this one if they crash the bill. Trump can easily wiggle out of responsibility for it. The question is whether the crazy bastards will sign onto anything other than “full repeal, fuck the poor”.

      • ap77

        That was when they could hide behind the fact that Obama wasn’t going to let them do anything anyway.

    • Thrax

      They do, in fact, almost always do that. But I don’t know what Trump will do when it’s reported that the bill is terrible. Denounce the reporting as fake news, or tweet that Republicans should have just written a good bill that accomplishes everything he said it should? The reporting that the bill is bad will be coming from a lot of sources that he usually considers friendly.

      • ap77

        He’ll do what he always does when confronted with inconvenient facts – blame the press for lying and not reporting his victories. And, again, his supports will buy it all.

        • tsam

          Now we know why Obama bugged Trump Tower…

          This all makes perfect sense.

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            Surest proof Obama didn’t bug Trump. Bamz was never hospitalized from laughing.

    • altofront

      And even though the bill is garbage, Trump will say it’s wonderful, fantastic, the greatest, and effectively all Republican voters will believe him because they’re fucking idiots.

      I don’t know, apparently Price is now describing the bill as “a work in progress” and refusing to say that the administration supports it in its current form. So much for hopes of quick passage.

  • Beyond defending ACA, the Democrats should make sure the stink this clings to the GOP for years. Every time they mention of Paul Ryan it should be Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who tried to take affordable health care from millions of Americans…

    • kayden

      But even if Republicans don’t repeal the ACA, they will take steps to weaken it so badly that it becomes a “death by a thousand cuts” situation. Unfortunately, they’ll do nothing to fix the problems with the ACA and do whatever they can to make sure that it eventually dies.

      • If they do that, let them own the resulting mess. They wanted power? Let them fix the problems they promised to fix. And if their fixes make the problems worse, that’s on them.

        • Scott Mc

          Yeah, I don’t think you get to continue to NOT repeal Obamacare AND rail against how it’s a disaster and costs are rising AND not do anything about it when you control all the parts of the government AND still get the benefit of everyone cheering you on. I mean, at some point, the inherent conflicts there have to cause something to break…

  • wengler

    It looks like top-down organizations have trouble when the person at the top is an erratic fuckwad that doesn’t do policy.

  • AMK

    the chance for a yoooge substantive and political win is definitely there.

    So the win would be Obamacare mostly as it is with a regressive financing mechanism…some kind of sales tax instead of a tax on rich people’s investment income. Because just leaving that tax in places is not possible for them.

  • Alex.S

    So based on the scheduling, it sounds like-

    * Plan released (March 6th)
    * Vote out of committee (March 8th)
    * CBO score released, telling how much it costs and how many people will gain or lose coverage (March 13th)

    The bill then sits in the House, waiting for a majority vote. This is a reconciliation-enabled bill as well, which means it can pass with a simple majority from the Senate.

    I’ve also seen thoughts that the penalty portion would not pass through reconciliation. But that’s a question for the parliamentarian.

    • Thom

      Is there a time limit because of the reconciliation procedure?

      • Alex.S

        I think so, but I don’t understand why.

        The legislative calendar has healthcare reform scheduled before tax reform or budget creation, due to the reconciliation process. I’ve been told that healthcare reform has to come first due to the reconciliation requirement. But I don’t know the reasons.

        • Thom

          Hmmm. Maybe because of the tax element of the mandate in the ACA? How DOES a god damn bill become law?

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            How DOES a god damn bill become law?

            When two politicians love getting re-elected very much, they get together and create a new entity called a bill.

        • altofront

          The answer, I think, is in this Jonathan Chait article. Short version: the Republicans want a tax cut that will cost about $3 trillion over 10 years, all going to the one-percenters. They want it to be permanent (unlike the Bush tax cuts), so they have to deal with the Byrd rule, which says that anything that increases the deficit after 10 years can’t be passed through budget reconciliation. Repealing the taxes that fund Obamacare lowers the baseline of tax revenue for the coming decade (from which the parameters of the Byrd rule would be calculated) by about $1.2 trillion, giving them substantially more elbow room in designing their new tax code. But this only works if they kill Obamacare first.

    • randy khan

      This assumes a majority on each of the relevant committees.

      In practice, to the extent that they realize they can’t get the votes with the current mess, there will be some kind of amendment in the form of a substitute bill that replaces the original somewhere along the way in an attempt to get more votes. Or, if the nose-counting says there’s no coalition that will get to 218, the bill will just sit there until it dies of old age.

  • ThresherK (KadeKo)

    Neither here nor there, but at first glance I thought the white space between the drapes in the background was a Klan hood.

    After the right’s spent so much time pallin’ around with neo- (or just plain) Nazis, that’s a great demo for the power of suggestion!

    • LosGatosCA

      I though lt that Sessions showed up in his Klan outfit and was just standing in the background.

      In any case, Bannon has this not so subliminal messaging down to a science.

  • No Longer Middle Aged Man

    I’m more pessimistic about this than most of the other posters here. I think that Ryan believes that he can whip enough votes to push it through the House. McConnell, I’m less clear.

    Even a bill that passes only one chamber creates more uncertainty and more problems for the exchanges. Maybe the Repubs then come back and try to pass something much narrower, such as defunding Medicaid. Meantime coverage options shrink and premiums rise, discontent grows … and Paul Ryan rides to the rescue with a new Republican healthcare bill to replace the “failed” Obamacare.

  • Paul Ryan truly is a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person is like.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Just like Trump is their idea of what a wealthy person is like.

    • sigaba

      They’re building a literal Voltron of Fail.

    • Cheap Wino

      I feel slimy about it but I’m almost giddy with excitement to witness the jaw dropping stupidity that will be on exhibit when that is released bequeathed to suffering comedians everywhere.

  • N__B

    What is Paul Ryan doing?

    Exchanging long protein strings, obviously.

  • LosGatosCA

    This is the Boehner problem on steroids.

    The Republican solution set is simply null.

    Frankly, I don’t think Ryan gives a shit. He’s just going through the motions because he can’t not go through the motions. It’s all crash and burn so just get something out there quickly and make it a fight between Pence, the Senate, and the Freedom Caucus.

    And just tell everyone, indirectly, “I really don’t need this job.” Doubt there are any folks wanting to jump into this shit, other than the true believers who can’t get the votes.

    Something terrible will get passed then they make it all up on tax cuts, which will make this look like small potatoes.

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