Republicans’ drive to repeal and replace Obamacare has hit its latest pothole, which didn’t surprise New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait. Health-care reform, Chait contended on Tuesday, is one of an unspecified number of issues “for which conservative principles turn out to be incompatible with the practical demands of governance.”
Chait observed that from 2010 through 2016, when GOPers were merely naysaying regarding the ACA, they had “cohesion.” Once they also controlled the White House, however, that unity “disintegrated…because their ideology left them unable to pass legislation that was not cruel, horrific, and repugnant to their own constituents.”
As Chait sees it, that’s a chronic condition for the party (bolding added):
In truth, it was never possible to reconcile public standards for a humane health-care system with conservative ideology. In a pure market system, access to medical care will be unaffordable for a huge share of the public. Giving them access to quality care means mobilizing government power to redistribute resources, either through direct tax and transfers or through regulations that raise costs for the healthy and lower them for the sick. Obamacare uses both methods, and both are utterly repugnant and unacceptable to movement conservatives. That commitment to abstract anti-government dogma, without any concern for the practical impact, is the quality that makes the Republican Party unlike right-of-center governing parties in any other democracy. In no other country would a conservative party develop a plan for health care that every major industry stakeholder calls completely unworkable.
Every attempt to resolve the contradiction between public demands and conservative ideology has led the party to finesse it instead. That is why Republicans spent years promising their own health-care plan would come out very soon. It is why their first and best option was repeal and delay. And it is why they are returning to that option now.
It’s possible, commented Chait, that “the Trump administration [will now] lash out at ObamaCare by continuing to sabotage its functioning markets. They will find, however, that sabotaging the insurance exchanges will create millions of victims right away, as opposed to the luxury of delaying the pain until after the elections. The power to destroy remains within the Republican Party’s capacity. The power to translate its ideological principles into practical government is utterly beyond its reach.”