It’s been a running joke for many years now that Republicans in Congress are always saying they’re just about done putting the finishing touches on an Obamacare replacement plan that everyone is going to love. Then–Majority Leader Eric Cantor promised in late 2010, for example, that his caucus was ready to “repeal ObamaCare and replace it with commonsense alternatives” as soon as the next Congress was sworn in, while in early 2012 the Hill reported that House Republicans would be “ready with a plan to replace President Obama’s healthcare law” that summer.
As you may have heard, Republicans—who now hold the presidency and both houses of Congress—finally actually did introduce an actual Obamacare replacement plan earlier this month, which then crashed, died, and was withdrawn in ignominious failure last week after a poll found that only 17 percent of Americans supported it and GOP leaders realized they wouldn’t be able to get enough votes to pass it despite holding a 44-seat majority (!) in the House of Representatives.
Well, House Republican leaders held a press conference Tuesday morning after a caucus meeting. And, amazingly, the purpose of the press conference was to announce that they intend, sometime soon, to introduce an Obamacare replacement plan (which everyone is going to love).
“After this morning, the resolve of our conference to repeal Obamacare and replace it has never been stronger,” whip Steve Scalise said.
“We promised that we would repeal and replace Obamacare, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.
“We’re going to keep talking to each other until we get it right,” Paul Ryan said, adding that he would not commit to an actual schedule for passing repeal legislation because the issue was “too important” to “put an artificial timeline on.”
As it happens, ultimate master negotiator/dealmaking genius Donald Trump made a quite public ultimatum regarding the timeline of the issue last week:
Trump issued lawmakers an ultimatum Thursday night. He wants the House to vote Friday on the legislation to begin dismantling ObamaCare and if it fails, he is “done with health care,” and ready to move on to tax reform, a source told Fox News.
The subtext here, I’m guessing, is that House Republicans realize they are going to look like real asshats in their 2018 re-election races if they don’t get something done on health care, which they’ve made their top issue for the past eight years, whereas Trump believes—and not without good reason—that his own “base” doesn’t care whether he gets anything done on this (or any) specific issue. It’ll be fun to see how it all plays out!