Tim Chapman is worried that it’s already taking too long for the Republican-controlled congress to make a move on repealing and replacing Obamacare (“Voters won’t forgive Republicans if they don’t repeal Obamacare,” The Hill, 3/2/2017):
Two months into a new Congress and a bill to repeal ObamaCare has yet to move. Initially, Republicans had hoped to put a repeal bill on President Trump’s desk on his inauguration day. Then the timeline moved back to Presidents Day in February. As we head into March, the timeline threatens to slip again as a GOP plan to repeal and replace is coming under serious conservative criticism.
(Quick note: Chapman’s op-ed title is purposefully misleading. Plenty of voters would be positively thrilled if Republicans don’t repeal Obamacare. He means Republican voters won’t forgive Republicans, and even that is questionable. It’s not like you only have so much print space, Tim, you could at least have an honest headline. But anyway.)
This is something I don’t really understand. Republicans think the failure to make a move a month and a half in is indicative of doom, whereas Democrats think they are being successful in forever forestalling the Republicans from doing anything. I know the first 100 days of an administration are important when it comes to moving major pieces of legislation, but the Republican ‘repeal and replace’ plan has never been more sophisticated than ‘just repeal,’ and they still have about two years to do that, so I don’t understand all the hullabaloo.
Put simply, Republicans are never held to account for anything they do for anything longer than two years, so it really doesn’t matter whether or not Republicans repeal Obamacare, and it doesn’t matter whether or not they replace it with anything if they end up repealing it. I mean that not in the sense that it doesn’t matter to everyday people—millions will lose health insurance, and people will die as a direct result of a repeal, so yes, it does matter—I mean it in the sense that the absolute worst punishment that Republicans will receive for repealing or not repealing Obamacare is a loss of a seat for two, maybe four years.
If [Republicans] don’t accomplish the objective of repeal before the April congressional recess, the town halls will be far worse, as Republicans will be hit hard by both the political left and right as conservative grassroots activists are growing increasingly alarmed by the snail’s pace in Congress. Failure to repeal will be a broken promise not soon forgiven.
Of course it will be forgiven. It doesn’t take long for voters to forget straightforward affronts. Whatever happens, repeal or no repeal, Republicans will, in time, shift blame to the Democrats or just forget about it all together and become outraged about any of the other nonsensical things that outrage them. They tricked voters into thinking their obstructionism was an example of why government doesn’t work, so I don’t doubt they can trick them again.