Gage Skidmore / Flickr paul ryan...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

While the Democrats move ahead, united in their next policy vision for healthcare reform, Republicans are still struggling with Obamacare repeal—and not even their policy wonks know where to go with this last-ditch repeal effort that’s already gasping for oxygen.

Republicans, including the Obamacare opponents outside the halls of the Capitol who so often set the agenda for Congress, are in uncharted territory, wandering the wilderness without the promise of Obamacare repeal to cling to. Now they are beginning to imagine what life looks like now that the dream of “Obamacare repeal” might really be dead.

I asked six of these Obamacare opponents, policy experts at conservative and libertarian think tanks, what they learned from the spectacular failure of Obamacare repeal and what they think happens now, in this strange new reality we all occupy.

They mostly agreed that Republicans should drop the idea of “repealing and replacing” Obamacare — but otherwise there was little consensus. Some think the next steps must be incremental and bipartisan. Others think that there is still a place for comprehensive health care reform plans. Given the increasing appetite for Democrats to embrace single payer, some aren’t sure they have trustworthy allies on the other side of the aisle. At least one is still holding out hope that Obamacare could be undone, and soon. […]

“There really wasn’t a robust and serious conversation about what is the conservative or Republican solution to health care policy,” Dan Holler, who oversaw the repeal debate for Heritage Action for America, told me. “There was really no consensus within the Republican Party on where to go forward.”

No shit, Sherlock. But for seven years, what we heard so regularly it has become a running, four-year internet joke is that there’s a replacement plan, ready to be dropped within days, weeks, maybe a month or two. Every time a Republican politician or policy wonk murmured they’d have that plan right away, political reporters reported it and some people even believed it. That’s not going to work anymore.

Republicans might actually have reached the point where they have to think about this a little harder, because their president is hell-bent on destroying Obamacare through sabotage. And when people start losing their insurance because of it, it’s going to be Republicans they blame. It would totally be out of character (and frankly beyond their capacity) to think up policy stuff, but they might think about trying to rectify all that now that they run the whole government.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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