Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell answers questions as members of the Republican leadership speak about the Defense Authorization Bill following caucus luncheons at the U.S. Capitol on June 9, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty

In the wake of failure, McConnell looks for someone to blame


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saw an opportunity to take health care benefits from millions of American families, and it’s hardly surprising that he’d feel bitter disappointment now that his efforts have failed. But this Politico piece suggests McConnell’s not playing the blame game especially well.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed “regret” and “disappointment” immediately after the GOP failed to pass a minimalist Obamacare repeal bill early Friday, blaming congressional Democrats for not engaging “in a serious way” in the efforts to remedy the health care law. […]

“Our friends on the other side decided early on they didn’t want to engage with us in a serious way, a serious way to help those suffering under Obamacare,” McConnell said.

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There are a few ways to look at whining like this. The first is to simply recognize it as pathetic. McConnell couldn’t convince his own members to follow his lead, and for him to blame the minority party for refusing to help him undermine Americans’ interests is impossible to take seriously.

The second is that McConnell is plainly wrong about what Democrats were willing to do. As we discussed weeks ago, Democrats practically begged Republicans to work cooperatively on health care. They put their appeals in writing for months, but GOP leaders ignored every appeal.

McConnell considered a bipartisanship approach, in a rather literal sense, the worst-case scenario. In March, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) characterized bipartisanship as the one course of action he simply did not want to even consider.

But even putting these details aside, let’s not overlook the fact that McConnell is perhaps the last person in the country who should be talking about engaging in health care policymaking “in a serious way.”

The Senate Majority Leader wrote a ridiculous eight-page health care bill yesterday afternoon. His office released it to the public last night. Senators began voting on it about three hours later. Many GOP senators opposed their party’s final bill, but agreed to vote for it anyway after receiving assurances that the bill they were advancing probably wouldn’t become law.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent noted this morning that as the fight over health care continued to unfold, Republicans treated the political and legislative process “like toilet paper.”

The GOP campaign for a health-care overhaul, Greg explained, “has been absolutely saturated from top to bottom with bad faith and scandalously brazen abuses of our governing norms for months. We’ve seen endless lies about the Affordable Care Act and the possible GOP replacement; an unprecedentedly secretive and rushed process in the GOP-led Congress; attacks on the legitimacy of nonpartisan budget scorekeepers; and the apparent use of taxpayer funds to promote the Republican replacement and undermine the ACA.”

Sure, Mitch, tell us again about how important it is to you that policymakers work on health care “in a serious way.”

Health Care and Mitch McConnell

In the wake of failure, McConnell looks for someone to blame