Two weeks ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was asked why he was moving forward with a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act before the Republican alternative is ready. The Republican leader told reporters with a smile, “Just wait.”
What he did not say was how long a wait he had in mind.
We were told that 2015 was going to be different. Ryan personally took over a GOP “working group” intended to, at long last, write the Republicans’ alternative to the dreaded “Obamacare.” Then-House Speaker John Boehner promised Fox News, “There will be an alternative, and you’re going to get to see it.”
That, obviously, didn’t turn out well. And yet, there was Ryan once more, vowing late last week to have a “complete agenda” in place by the time the party’s presidential nominee is clear. Might that agenda include the GOP’s reform plan? According to the New York Times, probably not.
It was unclear … whether Republicans will actually present a plan to replace the current health care law that has been their central policy punching bag since they took over the House.Republican leaders in the House and Senate demurred on whether they would write and vote on a bill this year.
Paul Krugman added the other day, “Lucy just snatched the football away, again. Republicans assured us that this year they really would, seriously, roll out their alternative to Obamacare. Or, maybe, not.”
When Paul Ryan said in early December that there’s an “urgent” need for his party to craft a health care plan, he evidently wasn’t being overly literal.
Following up on what we discussed at the time, it’s worth remembering that on June 17, 2009, then-Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the House Republican leadership at the time, publicly declared that he was helping craft his party’s alternative to the Affordable Care Act. “I guarantee you we will provide you with a bill,” he said six and a half years ago.
The same week, then-Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters that the official Republican version of “Obamacare” was just “weeks away.”
The Huffington Post’s Jeffrey Young has gotten quite a bit of mileage out of a joke, documenting all of the many, many times in recent years GOP officials have said they’re finally ready to unveil their big health care solution, only to quietly fail every time.
One of my personal favorites came in April 2014, when House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said his party’s plan was nearly done, but it was being delayed “at least a month.”
That was 21 months ago, but who’s counting.
Postscript: In theory, we might have expected to see meaningful health care plans any time now from the GOP presidential candidates, but in practice, that’s not going to happen, either.