On Thanksgiving, presidents tend to focus on the holiday, its meaning, and its importance. Last fall, as many Americans were sitting down for their holiday meal, Donald Trump went in a different direction.
“ObamaCare premiums are going up, up, up, just as I have been predicting for two years,” Trump tweeted on Thanksgiving, ignoring the fact that he’s the one who’s pushed premiums higher. “ObamaCare is OWNED by the Democrats, and it is a disaster. But do not worry. Even though the Dems want to Obstruct, we will Repeal & Replace right after Tax Cuts!”
Sifting through the nonsense, the president’s point seemed to be that once Republicans wrap up work on their regressive tax plan, GOP officials would turn their attention back to health care.
There’s certainly some appetite for that among prominent Republican lawmakers. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently vowed to move forward with his own far-right health care push, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said this week that he’s pushing his party to pursue ACA repeal again, too.
They’re almost certain to fail.
Asked about Cruz’s comments, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a key “no” vote on repeal last year, dismissed the idea.
“I don’t think we should be spending time trying to do repeal and replace of ObamaCare,” Murkowski told reporters.
This comes on the heels of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) conceding that he’s prepared to “move on” from the issue in 2018.
The trouble, whether repeal crusaders are prepared to admit it or not, is arithmetic.
In a 52-48 Senate, Republicans came up just short when pushing their repeal efforts in 2017. Then there was a certain special election in Alabama – the one that elected Democrat Doug Jones – which narrowed the chamber’s GOP majority.
In a 51-49 Senate, if two Republicans balk at a health care repeal bill, it dies. And as things stand, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) simply aren’t on board with their party’s gambit.
I don’t imagine Republicans will ever really give up on the issue – if given the chance, they’d still like to go after Social Security – but if the right is counting on 2018 being the year of the Affordable Care Act’s demise, they should lower their expectations.