After the House passed the AHCA today, Democrats broke into song. They sang “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!” and waved bye-bye at GOP members.
Republicans didn’t sing “good-bye” to Democrats when the Dems passed Obamacare. They knew that Democrats might well pay a heavy political price for their ill-advised effort to re-make a reasonably well-functioning health care system — as in fact the Democrats did. However, they did not view this as cause for celebration or song.
Democrats are different, though. They are convinced that the AHCA is their ticket back to power, and for them it’s always about power. Hence the unseemly singing.
But will the AHCA enable the Democrats to regain control of the House? Aaron Blake of the Washington Post presents the argument supporting this scenario. However, he omits several considerations that militate the other way.
First, we don’t know whether Congress will pass Obamacare reform. If it doesn’t, it’s not clear that constituents will hold a vote in favor of the AHCA against their House member. The vote will not have harmed anyone. It will have been proven inconsequential, except as evidence of the member’s desire to improve a failing system that Democrats imposed.
Second, even if the AHCA passes in some form, governors of at least some states represented by GOP House members who face difficult races in 2018 may make it clear that they don’t intend to apply for waivers from Obamacare regulations. Thus, the AHCA may not have the kind of impact on health insurance for the constituents of these GOP members that would affect their reelection prospects.
In this connection, it should be noted that, under the legislation passed by the House, the elimination of subsidies wouldn’t take place until 2020. It should also be noted that Democrats are assuming that the legislation wouldn’t have a positive impact on premiums and deductibles. That remains to be seen.
Third, it’s possible that voters will hold the Democrats’ attitude, evinced by their singing today, against them. I know I would have been very angry at any Republican member who greeted the passage of Obamacare with song.
I agree with Ben Pershing of National Journal, who tweeted “Democrats can claim to be happy (for political/electoral reasons) that this bill passed, but that’s very risky.” I also agree with Rick Klein of ABC News who tweeted, “I don’t get the optics of this.”
It would not be abnormal for the Democrats to regain control of the House in 2018, with or without the House passing the AHCA. The out-of-power party typically does well in the first mid-term election following the election of a new president, especially if the new president isn’t popular.
But no one knows whether the passage of the AHCA today will turn out to be the Democrats’ ticket back to power. All we can say after today is that the Democrats’ behavior confirmed they don’t deserve to regain it.