Until now, I haven't been too concerned about the Republican Party's difficulties in passing a health care reform bill because delays have resulted in improvements to the proposed legislation. But enough is enough. No more games.
It's time to quit the finger-pointing. Neither congressional leaders nor President Trump have done enough to whip votes and sell the bill.
A major overhaul of Obamacare, whether a full repeal, or a repeal and replacement, is imperative for Trump and congressional Republicans. More than any other, Obamacare is the issue that has galvanized grass-roots conservatives since 2010, and the Republicans' failure to act now will be devastating on multiple levels.
Excuses like "we had a few renegade senators on the left and the right" won't work. Then-President Obama had no problem getting a majority to support Obamacare and was even able, albeit through deceit and legislative bribery, to cobble together a filibuster-proof margin.
So why can't Republicans get their act together? The differences are that Obama wanted this more than anything else and thus almost willed it into existence, and Democrats are far more monolithic than Republicans and stick together. Republicans must show the same fierce determination Obama showed when he crammed his monstrosity down our throats.
This requires a concerted team effort. President Trump must focus far more attention on this than he has, and his meetings with Senate Republicans this week were a good start. For now, congressional Republicans must also make this their highest priority. Once the bill passes, Trump and Republican legislators must move on to tax reform with the same unified focus and determination.
Like never before, Trump must use the full extent of his political capital to sell the public on this bill and pressure recalcitrant legislators. He should hold major rallies in the states whose senators are balking, and give substantive speeches on what is at stake and why this bill is the lynchpin to reversing Obama's agenda. For their part, congressional Republicans need to be all over television and flood print media with op-eds pushing this bill.
Both Trump and GOP legislators must detail how Obamacare is failing and underscore the failed promises Obama made to advance this bill. In the process, they must change the narrative to distinguish between health care insurance (a term that has been bastardized, anyway) and affordable, quality health care with maximum consumer choices. For far too long, Democrats have corrupted the national conversation by fearmongering and distorting the English language.
I don't deny that the current version of the Senate bill is far from ideal from a conservative point of view, but it is far better than it was before, and it is light-years better than the status quo. I confess that I have been torn on supporting measures that many believe are Obamacare Lite, but in the end, we have to do the best we can do and go forward. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
I think we have a far better chance of passing a so-called repeal-and-replace bill, which could be more accurately described as a partial repeal and replacement than a full-blown repeal. Either way, one must occur without further delay.
Many pundits assume that if left alone, Obamacare will continue to unravel and disintegrate, but another school of thought says that it has already sustained the worst and will survive. I don't know about you, but I would never want to bet against the survival of any government entitlement program. Legislators will always figure out a way to bail it out, or, if it is beyond all repair, they might just take the easy route and opt for a single-payer system, which was Obama's plan all along. That's the worst of all worlds.
Even if Obamacare's ultimate failure were inevitable, Republicans can't sit on their hands and watch it die in slow motion. Far too many people will be hurt, which is unacceptable.
Moreover, though many Republicans assume that Obamacare's final implosion would mostly redound to the Democrats' detriment, it is hard to see that considering they would be the ones in power during the implosion. Don't ever underestimate the formidability of the media-enabled Democratic propaganda machine.
If Republicans don't get their act together now, they may not ever get another chance to prevent socialized medicine in this country. We'll never have a better chance to make market-based health care reforms if we don't pass the best bill possible now, for at least two reasons: First, Republicans will be punished for incompetence and betrayal in the next election. And second, there will be a point beyond which market reforms can't feasibly be made.
But if Republicans move this bill through, there's a good chance they can continue to improve it incrementally — especially if the changes in the current bill yield demonstrable results.
The proposed Senate bill is far from perfect, but we're fantasizing if we think we're going to get anything close to perfect at this point. Sen. Ted Cruz apparently finds the bill acceptable, and, for now, all things considered, that's good enough for me.