for a few weeks. Then, something happens and perception changes.
I agree with John that the failure of the House to pass Obamacare replacement legislation this week doesn’t necessarily mean GOP House members won’t be able to pass important legislation on other fronts. Health care legislation represents a special challenge because it is so complex, because the stakes are so high, and because Obamacare screwed things up so badly.
However, there is reason to think that the problems Speaker Ryan encountered this week will not be confined to health care legislation. The House Freedom Caucus flexed its muscle and its success, even in the face of intense pressure from President Trump, likely means it’s prepared to flex on other issues, as well.
To me, that’s generally a good thing, and I hope Ryan will pay more attention to the Freedom Caucus going forward. However, by paying attention — in other words, making legislation more conservative — Ryan might risk passing legislation with little chance of being approved by the Senate. Along the same lines, this week’s Obamacare experience might portend problems when it comes time for Senate and House conferees to hammer out their differences and pass a compromise on particular pieces of legislation.
Finally, we need to consider the potential adverse consequences of not passing Obamacare repeal legislation. It’s one thing if Obamcare spirals downward after Democrats (and/or the Senate parliamentarian) block a Republican replacement proposal that made it through the House. In that event, it will be reasonable to blame the Dems.
It’s quite another thing if Obamacare spirals downward after Republicans, having promised to repeal and replace it, can’t even agree on a proposal to bring to a vote in a GOP-dominated House. Shifting the blame in this scenario becomes problematic, to say the least.
I hope, therefore, that Republican lawmakers will revisit Obamacare soon — this time in a less hurried, more thoughtful manner. It may well be that the problems that caused the GOP failure this time are intractable at this time, but I don’t assume they are.