We almost take it for granted now, but it really is remarkable how nutty Republican lawmaking is:
That’s the fundamental insanity of running headlong toward a floor vote without a score from the CBO. A lot of pixels have been spilled on the basic hypocrisy of the procedural aspects of the AHCA. But the real issue here is about substance, not process. Making public policy is hard. The CBO is a tool to help make sure members of Congress understand what they’re doing. They are not using that tool, and consequently, they are flying blind — voting for a series of interlocking changes that will drastically impact tens of millions of people’s lives with no idea what is going to happen.
Most egregiously of all, at this point the tempo is apparently being dictated by Donald Trump’s personal pique at recalcitrant House members.
A president with no interest in the details of public policy is impatient with the idea that House members might care what the content of the bills they pass is, and has decided to make passing this law a test of personal loyalty to him.
That’s a ridiculous way to think about legislation in general. But it’s a particularly egregious way to think about this particular bill, since candidate Trump would have thoroughly denounced it. He promised — in the primary, in the general election, and even during the transition — to put forward a plan that covers everyone, lowers deductibles, and protects Medicaid. He then hashed out a bill that doesn’t do any of those things, and is now professing to be not just eager to pass a bill that defies all of his campaign commitments but furious at people who are skeptical of the merits. Meanwhile, even if it does pass, the bill would have to be substantially revised to have any chance in the Senate.
There’s simply no reason to be doing this. At best, House members will be taking a politically tough vote for an unpopular bill that doesn’t become law. At worst, it will somehow actually become law, and members will find themselves accountable for the catastrophic consequences they haven’t even bothered to try to understand. All out of misguided loyalty to a president who never supported these ideas and doesn’t appear to have any interest in the content of the legislation.
My only quibble is that I don’t think this is out of misguided loyalty to Trump. Rather, as Matt’s colleague observes the longer the process drags out the worse the chances become, precisely because the longer the process goes the less popular TrumpCare will be. Their best chance of passing something is now. I doubt that anything that can pass the House can get 50 votes in the Senate — but if you’re a fanatic bent on wrecking the American health care system it’s the best chance you’re going to have for a while.