AHCA Paints Republicans Into a Hard Corner

One challenge with writing on the weekend is that much of the biggest news during the week has already been beaten half to death and all the good takes already written. So it is with the Republicans’ passage of the horrendous AHCA earlier this week. The bill is so stupendously bad, and the Republican celebrations afterward so shortsightedly crass, that the four most obvious takes are the only ones worth writing:

1) Donald Trump wants a “win” so badly that he doesn’t even care what’s in the bill or why, even if it means breaking every single one of his campaign promises;

2) Republicans are so desperate to cut taxes for the rich that they’re willing to literally kill millions of Americans to get them, and to set up the financing for their next round of tax cuts for the rich.

3) The most conservative Republicans are now conducting governance by nihilism: the Freedom Caucus knows its bill has no chance in the Senate without being totally rewritten, but they care more about hewing to some version of objectivist Ayn Rand ideology than of their voters–or worse. I’m not a religious man, but they claim to be. If I truly believed in the Almighty and life after death I would be afraid to meet my Maker after voting for such an immoral catastrophe. It’s such a blatantly disgusting giveaway to the wealthy at the expense of the sick that even the Features Editor at Reason Magazine railed against it in the New York Times. Conservative Ross Douthat called it a “self-parodic exercise in cutting Medicaid to fund tax cuts for the rich.” Yikes.

But the most relevant take is the fourth: that whether the Senate passes a bill or not, House Republicans have set themselves up for punishment in a massive blue wave that leaves no district uncontested.

The ads will write themselves. The list of pre-existing conditions which will allow insurers to jack up rates on unsuspecting Americans is staggering. The loss of coverage created by the elimination of Medicaid expansions will be devastating. We won’t know the full extent of the damage until the CBO releases its score, but the result will likely be politically disastrous.

Democrats will give no quarter. It won’t matter if the Senate fails to pass a bill, or if the Senate passes a much-watered down bill. The House Republicans who voted for this monstrosity will be held accountable for what they voted for. In an electoral environment in which Democrats are already far overperforming in Republican districts in special elections, we could easily see a massive tidal wave sweep over House Republicans based on this issue alone–and we’re still only 100 days into a deeply unpopular and historically divisive Trump Administration.

 

 

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.