Thursday, March 30, 2017


Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he fears Republicans are pushing President Trump to make good on his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Negotiating health care reforms with Democrats is “hardly a conservative thing. I don’t want government running health care. The government shouldn’t tell you what you must do with your life, with your health care,” Ryan said.

The latter, however, is paradoxical to his willingness to tell Americans what they must do in other areas of their life. For example on the issue of abortion.

Ryan’s refusal to work with Democrats on healthcare is a longstanding position held by Republicans. It’s the reason they were the party of “no” during the Obama years. It is the reason they now will fail.

6 big lessons from the Republican’s failure to replace the Affordable Care Act:

1. Trump is a lousy dealmaker. He blundered into a political fiasco, apparently believing he could win over recalcitrant Republican members of Congress simply by popping over to Capitol Hill.

2. Paul Ryan is an even worse rightwing ideologue than we knew. He came up with a truly awful bill that couldn’t be justified on any ground at all. It just shifted $600 billion from the poor and working class to the rich.

3. Republicans don’t know how to govern. They’ve been out of power so long all they can do is oppose. They lack the mental and emotional capacities to craft and sell large-scale initiatives that advance the public good.

4. When it comes to health-care policy, there is no workable conservative alternative to the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the only workable alternative at all is a single-payer healthcare plan, which present-day Republicans couldn’t possibly stomach.

5. Americans need and want maternity coverage, mental-health benefits, prescription drugs, pediatric services, lab tests, and the other things included on the list of essential health benefits under the Act. When moderate Republicans in places like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania heard that these services might be eliminated under the amended legislation, they abandoned it in significant numbers. It was their desertion that ultimately killed the bill.

6. The larger lesson here is that conservatism failed and social democracy won. Most Americans fall into the latter camp, even though the people who run our government don't.

Photograph By Drew Angerer / Getty
By John Cassidy