Broken promises are as old as politics itself, and there are many famous examples of them in modern history. President George H.W. Bush’s “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge comes immediately to mind, as does President Bill Clinton reneging on his middle-class tax cut, and President Barack Obama never closing Guantanamo Bay. But in each of those cases, those were promises that were made in a given campaign by a given politician. The promise of Obamacare repeal is much different.
Republicans ran on repealing and replacing Obamacare for seven years, over the course of four election cycles. They won the House majority in 2010 in large part because of the backlash against the passage of Obamacare — and the vow to “repeal and replace” Obamacare was part of their “Pledge to America” campaign document that year. The botched rollout of Obamacare helped them win the Senate in 2014. House candidates, Senate candidates, gubernatorial candidates, and even state legislative candidates ran against Obamacare — and won.
Though President Trump was always an unorthodox candidate on healthcare (vacillating between praising single-payer and touting a free market plan), he consistently campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare, and exploited news of spiking premiums in the weeks leading up to the presidential election.
Republicans were always moving the goal posts on voters. That is, during campaign season, they made boasts about repeal, and then once in office, they talked about procedural complications. In 2010, they campaigned on repeal, but by 2011, they said they needed the Senate. In 2014, they won the Senate, but by 2015 they said as long as Obama was in office, nothing would become law. In 2016, they told conservative voters, even reluctant ones, that if they voted for Trump despite any reservations, they’d finally be able to repeal Obamacare. In November, voters gave them unified control of Washington. And yet after just two months on the job, they have thrown in the towel and said they’re willing to abandon seven years of promises.
Trump says he wants to work with Democrats. That’s been tried many times and failed every time. It won’t do any good but someone ought to tell Trump what happens to Republicans who try to work with Democrats.
The conventional wisdom is to blame the conservatives in the Freedom Caucus for this. That’s crazy, they aren’t the ones who are refusing to repeal Obamacare. They objected to a bill that claimed it repealed Obamacare when it did no such thing. If Paul Ryan and Donald Trump would offer a bill that repealed Obamacare the Freedom Caucas would be behind it.
Paul Ryan says he and his council are the only ones who want to repeal Obamacare. But they already showed they don’t want to repeal Obamacare. Why else did they write a bill that doesn’t repeal Obamacare?