Health care de­feat leaves GOP in crouch, Dems on of­fence

Medicine Hat News - - NATION-WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON Repub­li­cans face a big prob­lem fol­low­ing the col­lapse of their lat­est push to re­peal the Obama health care law: Their own vot­ers are an­gry and don’t trust them.

Right now, they don’t know what to do about it. That’s trou­ble for a party pre­par­ing to de­fend its House and Se­nate ma­jori­ties in 2018 midterm elec­tions that look riskier than most imag­ined months ago.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and top con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans say they’ll take an­other run next year at dis­man­tling Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law. But they’ve made do­ing just that a core prom­ise in four con­sec­u­tive na­tional elec­tions with noth­ing to show for it.

“If I’m a voter in wher­ever and some­body says, ‘We’re go­ing to come back to health care,’ would I be skep­ti­cal? Sure,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who’s re­tir­ing rather than seek a third term next year. He added, “When some­thing has been com­mit­ted to and it doesn’t hap­pen and then it doesn’t hap­pen again, I think it’s self-ev­i­dent it isn’t a good thing.”

This year’s fail­ure was es­pe­cially sting­ing be­cause it was the first time since Obama’s 2010 over­haul law was en­acted that they’ve con­trolled the White House and Congress. The lat­est de­ba­cle came Tues­day, when Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., averted a guar­an­teed de­feat by not hold­ing a vote on a last-re­sort bill trans­form­ing much of Obama’s law into block grants that states would con­trol.

The set­backs are caus­ing strains among Se­nate Repub­li­cans.

“It’s ob­vi­ous we don’t have the kind of lead­er­ship we need to pass this piece of leg­is­la­tion,” Sen. Ron John­son, R-Wis., told a re­porter Fri­day af­ter an ap­pear­ance in Fitch­burg, Wis­con­sin. John­son, who’s clashed with McCon­nell be­fore, de­clined to say if the leader should step down.

The bro­ken prom­ises are an “epic fail” that “puts less trust in the minds of con­ser­va­tive vot­ers,” said Tim Phillips, pres­i­dent of Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­ity, the con­ser­va­tive group backed by the ac­tivist broth­ers David and Charles Koch.

The GOP health care im­plo­sion “has poi­soned the at­ti­tude of GOP pri­mary vot­ers to­ward con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans in gen­eral,” Steven Law wrote in a memo this week. Law, McCon­nell’s former chief of staff, heads the Se­nate Lead­er­ship Fund, a po­lit­i­cal group al­lied with the Ken­tucky Repub­li­can.

Law’s memo was re­leased Tues­day, hours be­fore the GOP pri­mary de­feat of Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., by con­ser­va­tive light­ning rod Roy Moore. Es­tab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans in­clud­ing McCon­nell backed Strange, as did Trump.

Law warned that the ouster of Strange would make him “the first ca­su­alty — and prob­a­bly not the last — of the Oba­macare re­peal fi­asco.”

In an ABC News-Wash­ing­ton Post poll this week, more Repub­li­cans dis­ap­proved than ap­proved of the job the con­gres­sional GOP is do­ing by a dis­mal 21 per­cent­age points. That’s the fourth-worst show­ing since 1994.

Just eight Se­nate Repub­li­cans face re-elec­tion in 2018, and only two have seemed to face se­ri­ous GOP pri­mary chal­lenges: Sens. Jeff Flake of Ari­zona and Ne­vada’s Dean Heller.

Mitch McCon­nell

Don­ald Trump

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