WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 11: Sen. Mitch McConnell (C) (R-KY) answers questions following a weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on March 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. Also pictured (L-R) are Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Mitch McConnell recently unveiled a plan for a straight repeal of Obamacare with no replacement. Something many of his senate colleagues voted on in the past, but since they waffled on the GOP replacement negotiations, McConnell has decided to paint them hypocrites by forcing them to vote on an even more radical proposal they easily passed in the past.
If the GOP replacement plan had trouble winning enough moderate support to go through a straight repeal will be an ever harder sell, even if voting no makes a few people look like hypocrites, Republican politicians are used to that. This move by McConnell won’t pass, but it’s savvy none the less because it may be the catalyst needed to repeat the process that occurred in the House with their healthcare bill.
Weeks after Paul Ryan unveiled his Obamacare repeal and replace plan, it seemed to die in the House. Unable to reach a compromise between moderate Republicans and the far right “freedom caucus” Paul Ryan held a press conference and declared Obamacare “the law of the land.” Just weeks later though the House decided they wouldn’t let their efforts die so easily and passed their bill and the healthcare reform process moved to the senate. The debate in the senate was remarkably similar and all along Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struggled to maintain a balance between more moderate Republicans like Susan Collins and those on the far right like Rand Paul.
McConnell’s move to repeal only might win over people like Rand Paul, but that won’t pull Susan Collins or people opposed to drastic medicaid cuts, but it will pressure those people to consider whether or not the Republican healthcare repeal plan is as bad as it seemed on the surface. Someone worried about the replace bill being too far to the right won’t vote for a repeal bill, but the threat of a repeal bill may very well get them to the bargaining table again. Especially considering how much of the Republican agenda is wrapped up in successfully repealing the taxes Obamacare created.
Ted Cruz laid out the situation the Republican Party finds itself in on Fox News. “If we screw up Obamacare repeal tax reform becomes a lot harder,” Cruz said. Cruz went on to say that failing to adequately repeal Obamacare could prevent the Republicans from having “one of the most productive congresses” in decades. In truth, the Republicans do have a historic amount of power right now and because of how they structured their legislative agenda failing to repeal Obamacare would be squandering an opportunity they may never get again. These are the terms and every Republican senator knows it, to squander a historic opportunity because of medicaid cuts could bring a lot of those on the edges to the table.
That’s McConnell’s plan, bring those people to the table by shoving something even more drastic down their throats under the guise of an ensuing collapse of their entire agenda if such steps are not taken. Providing an opportunity to slip repeal back in as a moderate way out for those staunchly opposed to strict repeal and bringing those on the right along because it’s been billed as the only way to maintain a Republican agenda everyone on the right can find something to like in.
McConnell knows a straight repeal will be a much harder sale than the GOP replacement plan. It’s not supposed to pass, it’s just meant to make repeal more palatable, just like Paul Ryan declaring Obamacare the law of the land did in the senate.
It might not work, but it’s really the only option McConnell has.