March 24, 2017

WHEN PURITY TRUMPS POSSIBILITY:

Why Trumpcare Failed : There is more to passing major legislation than possessing a mathematical majority in Congress. (BRIAN BEUTLER, March 24, 2017, New Republic)

As one of the leading figures in American conservatism, Ryan spent so much time fantasizing about aligning procedural stars that he lost sight of all the other elements that went into creating the welfare state he hoped to roll back. The failure of Trumpcare--which would have kicked millions of people off health insurance, while delivering a tax cut to the wealthiest Americans--underscores the shortsightedness of the idea that major social change can be created with the will to power alone.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has never been so naive. In 2012, he acknowledged the centrality of public sentiment to the rise of liberalism, and that Republicans bore the obligation to win public trust before they set about dismantling what it took Democrats decades to build.

"[T]he American people have never given us the kind of hammerlock on Congress that Democrats had during the New Deal, that they had during the Great Society, and that they had in 2009 and 2010," he told Kentucky radio ahead of former President Barack Obama's reelection in 2012. "Why haven't you been able to get better results?...The answer to that is, we haven't had enough votes. We have elections in this country and the winners get to make policy and the losers go home. And the Democrats have had Congress, sometimes with whopping majorities, most of the time since the New Deal. And that's a great disappointment...because we've not been able to secure the support of enough of the American people to have the kind of big majorities you need to kind of roll things back. Maybe some day we'll have that. I hope so."

After Donald Trump's surprising Electoral College victory, McConnell was alone among Republican leaders in flashing yellow lights. It wasn't lost on him that his 52-vote majority in the Senate wouldn't have the capacity to pass significant, ideologically one-sided legislation, and that Trump had lost the popular vote by millions of ballots. Republicans won the presidency in 2016, but they lost seats in both the House and Senate, which is not the signal voters send when they are asking one party to impose its will.

Under those circumstances, enacting a vast, regressive, polarizing agenda wouldn't be a masterstroke--the product of the hard work of persuasion and consensus-building. It would be a mugging.

The most important takeaway is that Trumpcare did not die today, it was stillborn.  The bill could never have made it past the Senate so the whole thing was an exercise in ideological futility.

Posted by at March 24, 2017 7:01 PM

  

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