As far as Donald Trump is concerned, Senate Republicans should take the lead on crafting the GOP's alternative to the Affordable Care Act. Evidently, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee isn't eager to help in the endeavor.
Even Republicans who furiously fought the creation of the law and won elections with the mantra of repeal and replace speak favorably of President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement.
"Quite obviously, more people have health insurance than would otherwise have it, so you got to look at it as positive," Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a recent interview.
At a certain level, comments like these may seem so anodyne, they're hardly notable. Any responsible assessment of the Affordable Care Act and its effects would conclude that it obviously deserves to be seen in a positive light.
But in Republican politics over the last decade, rhetoric like Grassley's has been verboten. The only acceptable labels for "Obamacare" in GOP circles are words like "failure," "disaster," and attacks not suitable for publication on family websites like this one. To concede that the Affordable Care Act has helped millions, and has had a positive impact on the country, is to betray the Republican Party's goals and principles.
Indeed, Iowa's senior senator is an observer of particular relevance. Those who followed the debate over health-care reform closely may recall that by the fall of 2009, “no Republican received more TLC from Barack Obama” than Chuck Grassley. The Democratic president and his team reached out to him constantly, hoping that he was the kind of senator who would work in good faith towards bipartisan solutions.
He was not. While Grassley claimed to be serious about bipartisan solutions on health care reform, he was also, at the same time, making fundraising appeals urging donors to send him cash to help him “defeat Obama-care.” Grassley proceeded to talk up “death panel” garbage and tout Glenn Beck’s book.
By August 2009, Grassley told MSNBC that he was negotiating with the White House on a health care compromise, which Grassley was prepared to vote against, even if it included everything he asked for.
In the years that followed, the conservative Iowan did what hundreds of other GOP lawmakers did: Grassley voted to repeal the reform law -- in whole or in part -- several times.
And yet, here we are.