It’s just possible that the Republican party will move on from the finger-pointing and circular firing squad over Trumpcare failure, but not likely. House Republicans are blaming Senate Republicans. Senate Republicans have been blaming the ignorant and unhelpful occupant of the White House. And popular vote loser Donald Trump is lashing out at all the Republicans. So much for the big blame the Democrats strategy. In all the finger-pointing, there’s little hope that Republicans will land on the actual problem: they can win elections, with a bit of cheating, voter suppression, and gerrymandering, but they are incapable of governing.
Now that Republicans have failed to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, the GOP faces an existential Obamacare problem with no immediate answer. Do they keep trying to undermine it, as they’ve promised for seven years? Or do they try to make it work better—even if that means compromise with Democrats?
Trump pressed the GOP all weekend to keep at it. “Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead!” he tweeted. “Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!” He even taunted lawmakers by threatening to take away their health care benefits if they don’t deliver. On Sunday, his health secretary, Tom Price, refused to rule out a move to stop enforcing the requirement that people get covered.
But if these six months have taught Republicans anything, it’s that their party’s divisions over how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act are deep and systemic.
The Obamacare failure is just the tip of the iceberg of the internecine problems the GOP is facing. Seven years. Seven years they’ve been talking about—working their base up—over repeal. It was easy for those seven years because they knew it wouldn’t happen. They didn’t have to try to be a responsible governing party because there was a grown-up in the White House that would save them from their outlandish, destructive promises to the base.