Thanks to three Republican heroes—and 48 Democratic ones—the health of the American people is a lot more secure than it looked like at a few minutes after midnight on Friday morning. Nevertheless, the past week has demonstrated something very important, albeit something not especially surprising. On health care, both in terms of the process they followed, and the outcome for which they aimed, most of the Republican Senate caucus should be ashamed of itself. They aren’t, but they should be.
Republicans spent years railing about the way Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2009-10. The reality is that the year-long legislative path to Obamacare passage included multiple public hearings; a bill brought up through appropriate committees and through regular order; serious, if ultimately fruitless negotiations with members of the minority party—who, with hindsight, appear unlikely to have been willing to vote yes no matter what Democrats gave them; as well as not only consideration but adoption of GOP amendments: 188 Republican amendments were adopted into the ACA, as were another 17 amendments of bipartisan origin.
With Republicans in charge now, the count of amendments adopted that were offered by the minority party on health care is zero. Also, don’t forget that the core principle around which Obamacare is built is a conservative idea—working through private insurance and mandating coverage so that people cannot simply sign up after they get sick.
Finally, the American people elected 60 Democratic senators and a huge House majority in 2008, as well as a president who won an actual landslide and campaigned on passing national health care reform. Republicans today have no such mandate. Donald Trump lost the popular vote by three million.
This time, Mitch McConnell and his leadership team operated in a way that makes their complaints about what Democrats did seven years ago look ridiculous, at least to any objective, reality-based observer.