The Corner

Politics & Policy

The ‘Skinny Repeal’ Debacle and the Way Forward

The “skinny repeal” debacle reveals in miniature why Republicans have continued to struggle in passing health-care reform. For months now, many Republicans in Congress have treated voting on health-care reform like a suicide run into opposing fire. It would be painful, and it would be unpopular — and politicians have a Darwinian aversion to pain and unpopularity. Last night’s vote on “skinny repeal” was almost a parody of this dynamic: GOP senators were supposed to vote for a bill even as they denounced it and sought assurances from the House that this bill would never become law. Voting for a bill you secretly hope will fail is a long-standing Washington tradition, but voting for a bill you openly hope will fail might have been a bridge too far.

In 2010, Democrats made that suicide run in passing the Affordable Care Act, and have paid a huge price for it. But at least they got a major public-policy goal accomplished in exchange for that electoral evisceration. A pseudo-repeal of the Affordable Care Act doesn’t have the same cost-benefit ratio.

Avik Roy is right that Republicans have an obligation to try to redress the many shortcomings of the American health-care system, but doing so will take a more substantial rethinking of not just public rhetoric but also of policy strategy. So far, trying to pass big-picture Affordable Care Act reform on a party-line basis has been a doomed proposition in the Senate. Going forward, Republicans might have first to try to do some smaller reforms of the ACA (think of them as policy training wheels) and/or collaborate with centrist Democrats to pass slightly more ambitious but broadly popular efforts at reform. The bipartisan rewriting of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2015 offers an example of that kind of model of reform.

Successful smaller approaches to health-care reform could increase public trust in the ability of Republicans to manage health-care policy, which in turn could give the GOP new political opportunities in the future. Moving beyond a reconciliation-centric strategy of health-care reform could also allow the GOP to move on to other policy areas. Republicans cannot afford to have the whole of the 115th Congress be dominated by a health-care stalemate.

Successful legislating usually isn’t a sprint to disaster; a slower, more judicious walk can be more sustainable in terms of both politics and policy.

Fred Bauer is a writer from New England. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including The Weekly Standard and The Daily Caller. He also blogs at A Certain ...

Most Popular

Elections

Put Up or Shut Up on These Accusations, Hillary

Look, one 2016 candidate being prone to wild and baseless accusations is enough. Appearing on Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Hillary Clinton suggested that 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was a “Russian asset,” that Republicans and Russians were promoting the Green Party, and ... Read More
National Review

Farewell

Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Defense That Doesn’t Work

If we’ve learned anything from the last couple of weeks, it’s that the “perfect phone call” defense of Trump and Ukraine doesn’t work. As Andy and I discussed on his podcast this week, the “perfect” defense allows the Democrats to score easy points by establishing that people in the administration ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
Elections

Democrats Think They Can Win without You

A  few days ago, Ericka Anderson, an old friend of National Review, popped up in the pages of the New York Times lamenting that “the Democratic presidential field neglects abundant pools of potential Democrat converts, leaving persuadable audiences — like independents and Trump-averse, anti-abortion ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More