Wednesday, March 29, 2017

DNC to Every Staffer: 'You're Fired'

If there was any doubt that the election of Donald Trump presented the Democratic Party with an existential crisis, the dire state of the liberal political party is evident by a report that Tom Perez, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has requested the resignation of all DNC staffers. The request may signal that Perez intends to move the Democrats away from the influence of the Clintons and their ties to Wall Street.

NBC News reports that Leah Daughtry, an advisor to outgoing DNC chair and Clinton ally Donna Brazile, asked that all staffers submit a resignation letter dated April 15 after the selection of Perez in February. Perez will have the option of accepting or rejecting the resignations and asking some staffers to stay on under his administration.

The DNC insisted that there was nothing unusual about the request. “This is longstanding precedent at the DNC and has happened during multiple Chair transitions,” said spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. “The process was started before the election of the new Chair. From the beginning, Tom has been adamant that we structure the DNC for future campaigns.”

Perez previously assembled a committee of 30 Democrats to aid in selecting and interviewing new staff at the DNC per NBC. The committee includes Democrats from a variety of backgrounds including Bernie Sanders supporter Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Black Lives Matters activist Deray McKesson, immigration activist Astrid Silva, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), former South Carolina Gov. and DNC Chair Don Fowler, and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Perez, who served as the Secretary of Labor under Barack Obama, bested Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) for the DNC chairmanship in February. Ellison had the backing of Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) while Perez, who was endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden, was seen as a candidate of the Democratic establishment.

Clues to the new direction of the Democratic Party can be seen in Perez’s promise to not accept money from lobbyists and his realization that the Democrats are out of touch with rural voters in traditional Democrat strongholds. “One of the reasons we lost in places like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania is we're not speaking to rural voters,” he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in February.

The new DNC chair has two difficult tasks ahead. First, he must bring the varied factions of the party together after the bitter primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. There is some evidence that enough Democrat voters disillusioned with Clintonian corruption voted third party to make a difference in swing states.

Second, the Democrats must repair the damage that the Obama Administration did to their appeal to working class voters. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones pointed out that Clinton lost 14 points among white working class voters and eight points among Hispanic working class voters compared with 2012.

“This strongly suggests that the working class was primarily motivated by economic concerns and only secondarily by racial issues,” Drum writes.

The economic stagnation in Rust Belt states, many of which are led by Democrats, arguably pushed many blue-collar voters toward Donald Trump. After eight years of Barack Obama’s various wars on business and coal, the Democrats have much to do to regain their footing in some states that were deep blue in the near past.

Perez’s task is made all the more difficult by the fact that state and local Democrats took heavy losses in the Obama era. Republican wave elections ended the careers of many promising Democrats in 2010 and 2014. In all, Democrats lost more than 1,000 seats under President Obama according to Fox News.

Given these challenges, it is unsurprising that Perez might want to start with a clean slate as he rebuilds the DNC from scratch. “What we're trying to do is culture change,” he told NBC News. “We're repairing a plane at 20,000 feet. You can't land the plane, shut it down, and close it until further notice.”

Originally published on The Resurgent

More states consider Medicaid expansion after health bill fail

The failure of the American Health Care Act may have an unintended consequence that will make it harder to dislodge Obamacare’s entitlements in the future. After Speaker Paul Ryan’s admission that “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” several red states are considering Medicaid expansions under the Affordable Care Act.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 19 states, most of which are reliably Republican, rejected the ACA’s Medicaid expansion to cover low-income families after the Supreme Court struck down the mandatory expansion of Medicaid and made it optional for the states. Federal funding for the expanded program was covered at 100 percent for three years and would reduce to 90 percent in 2020. The federal government typically pays about 60 percent of Medicaid spending.

“The thing that held states back was that they were going to end Medicaid expansion,” Adam Searing, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, told the Journal. “Now when you have the House speaker saying this is going to stay, it’s like, ‘We may get the money, why not explore it?”

The Kansas Senate voted to approve the Medicaid expansion on Tuesday, two working days after the Republican health bill failed. CNN reports that the Kansas House had passed the bill earlier this year. The bill now goes to Gov. Sam Brownback (R) who is not expected to sign it into law.

“To expand Obamacare, when the program is in a death spiral, is not responsible policy,” Gov. Brownback said.

The Journal reports that several other states are expected to reconsider the Medicaid expansion since the ACA now appears to have survived the Republican challenge. These include Idaho, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Utah and Wyoming.

North Carolina’s Democrat governor, Roy Cooper, initiated the Medicaid expansion process after taking office in January. The Winston-Salem Journal said that the expansion was a top priority for Gov. Cooper, but he has met resistance from Republicans in the General Assembly.

Ironically, a Republican administration may make it more likely that red states buy into the Medicaid expansion. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price has the power to issue regulations that affect how Medicaid money is spent. A more conservative approach that includes work requirements and more leeway on how states spend Medicaid money may entice Republican state governments to opt in.

If more states enact the expanded Medicaid entitlement, it will be even harder to kill Obamacare in the future. The AHCA was derailed by Freedom Caucus members who, among other things, objected to the way the bill handled the expansion. The AHCA’s slow phase out of the Medicaid expansion was made necessary by four Republican Senators (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Corey Gardner of Colorado, Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia) whose states elected to buy into Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. If more states expand Medicaid, it is likely that more Republican congressmen will decide to protect the federal Medicaid money flowing to their states.

Some popular Republican governors are already resisting the repeal of the Medicaid expansion as well. John Kasich (R-Ohio), who finished third in the 2016 Republican primary, called the Republican plan to repeal the expansion “a very, very bad idea” according to CNN.

The Trump Administration denies that the effort to repeal Obamacare is over, but there seem to be no plans to move forward. “Have we had some discussions and listened to ideas? Yes,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the Journal. “Are we actively planning an immediate strategy? Not at this time.”

As more states and taxpayers receive federal Obamacare money, the law will be harder and harder to repeal. Government money has the power to make addicts of both individuals and states. 

Originally published on The Resurgent

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

It's time to stage an intervention for Republicans

When I was growing up, a frequent trope on television sit-coms was to stage an intervention for characters whose destructive behavior was getting them into trouble. The episode would involve other members of the cast gathering together to show the character with the problem how they were destroying their life with the hope of convincing them to change their ways. This week, as the prospects for repeal and replacement of Obamacare grow ever dimmer, it is time for an intervention for Republicans.

Obamacare cannot be repealed.

There. I’ve said it.

As a popular meme series might put it, “Stop trying to make full repeal happen. It’s not going to happen.” At least for now, this is the hard truth for conservatives.

The truth is that Republicans don’t have the votes to repeal Obamacare. The Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act with 60 votes, enough to end the Republican filibuster two days before Christmas in 2009. Republicans also need 60 votes to stop a Democrat filibuster of a repeal bill. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate. You do the math.

Repealing Obamacare is not mathematically possible without at least eight Democrats crossing the aisle. Reforming Obamacare is possible through a budget reconciliation. That should be our goal. We should be talking about health care reform instead of repeal.

Ted Cruz (R-Texas) advocates the 2015 repeal bill that was vetoed by President Obama, noting that “Virtually every Republican in Congress voted for that language, and the parliamentarian has already ruled it as permissible.” This bill is also unattainable, however. Cruz fails to note that four Republicans who voted for the 2015 bill now refuse to vote for a bill without a phase out of the Medicaid expansion. The 2015 bill was also not a full repeal.

Otto von Bismarck said that “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.”

That is what Republicans should focus on: What is possible, attainable, and the next best thing to full repeal that can actually pass. That is going to involve the ugly art of compromise. Any bill that can pass is not going to be everything that the conservative and moderate Republicans have on their respective wish lists.

The question for Republicans is this: Is a compromise that reforms Obamacare but falls short of repeal better than leaving the current monstrosity in place in its entirety? The answer should be a resounding “yes!”

Repeal is the ultimate goal, but it is not going to happen within the next two years. The current, short-term goal should be to take baby steps toward fixing the health care mess that Obamacare created. If Republicans can create a policy compromise that makes things better for most Americans, then hopefully voters will trust them with a larger majority in 2018.

Even then, it probably won’t be a slam dunk. Sixty-seat supermajorities don’t come along often. This is especially true for the Republicans who last had 60 seats in 1911. As long as there is a filibuster, compromise and forging bipartisan majorities is going to be necessary to advance conservative legislation.

Conversely, the more dysfunctional the party acts, the less likely voters are to give Republicans more power.

Since the defeat of the AHCA, President Trump has realized that he needs some Democrat votes and has started reaching across the aisle. The question is whether conservative Republicans will be left behind in the new reality or whether they will use their influence to craft the best, most conservative bill that can pass. If conservatives don’t play ball with the “nonpartisan” president, they may well find a new reform law passing that is even less likeable than the AHCA.

There is no honor for Republicans in insisting on a perfect bill that will never become law. There is no honor in killing imperfect bills that can improve the lives of hardworking Americans. The honor for Republicans will be found in coming together and building a bill that both conservatives and moderates can say “yes” to.

Voters did not send Republicans to Washington with a blank checkbook. For better or worse, Republicans were given a slim majority and a president who is not a conservative. No one faction of the party can enforce its will on the others. To accomplish anything, Republicans must learn to work together and get beyond the “just say ‘no’” mentality.

Voters did send Republicans to Congress to fix the Obamacare mess. If the ACA cannot be repealed, then it should be reformed where possible. Republicans should roll up their sleeves and get to work doing just that. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Gov. Moonbeam to Trump: Act Christian

California’s Governor Moonbeam has called upon President Trump to do the “Christian thing” and halt the deportation of illegal immigrants. According to the Daily Wire, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Cal.) went on to call the president “Mr. Religious Fellow” and said, “I  thought we had to treat the least of these as we would treat the Lord. So I hope he would reconnect with some of his conservative evangelicals and they’ll tell him that these are human beings and they’re children of God, they should be treated that way.”

A common trope among liberals is to suddenly get religion when it suits their policy views. In recent weeks, Democrats have also attacked the proposed Trump budget as “immoral” because it cuts federal funding for programs for the poor and the arts.

Gov. Brown is himself a lapsed Catholic who doesn’t “want it to be understood that I’m ready to underwrite” the “whole train of [Catholic] doctrines and beliefs” notes the Sacramento Bee. Many Christians would consider Brown, who studied Zen Buddhism in Japan and India under a former Jesuit priest who blended Christianity with Buddhism, to be an apostate.

When considering Brown’s view of what is “Christian,” it must be noted that Brown’s policies as governor of California were hostile to Catholics and Christians who oppose abortion. Brown’s administration changed state policy to require that health insurance companies pay for elective abortions, a decision that the president of the Catholic League told the Mercury News was in “direct conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church.” Brown also signed a California law that requires crisis pregnancy centers to refer patients to abortion clinics.

The Bible refers to the life of unborn babies in the womb as a creation of God (Psalm 139:13-16). “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) is a core verse of the Ten Commandments.

While it can be galling when liberals hold conservative Christians to Biblical standards, it is not inappropriate. If Christians profess to adhere to a higher moral standard, it is fair game for the left to call them out when their actions fail to live up to their words.

The bigger problem is when non-Christians read policy prescriptions into the Bible that are not there. One of the largest myths from the religious left is that the Bible commands us to create a government welfare state to help “the least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46). A closer examination of the Biblical text reveals an individual commandment to help the sick and the poor. There is no option to have the government fund charity through tax dollars.

The leftist argument also assumes that government programs actually help the poor. Many studies have shown the destructive effects of government entitlements on the poor with unintended consequences from undermining personal responsibility to increased out-of-wedlock births and reducing upward mobility out of poverty. Second Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,’ is conveniently ignored by the big government Christians.

What of Jerry Brown’s contention that illegal immigration should be allowed to continue because it is the “Christian” thing to do? Jesus’s admonition to “render unto Caesar” (Matthew 20:21) and Paul’s advice to “obey the laws” (Romans 13:5) argue that Christians should not abet people in breaking the law except in the extreme case that man’s law contradicts God’s law (Isaiah 10:1-2, Acts 5:29).

Brown’s position on abortion contradicts the Biblical commandment not to murder, but the immigration system, thought broken and badly in need of reform, does not require Christians of conscience to break God’s law. Christian health care workers in California who are being compelled to aid in the murder of unborn babies have a better case for civil disobedience than federal immigration officers.

If Gov. Brown believes that the immigration system is unjust, as a majority of Americans do, he should work to change it, not tell people to ignore it. And while he’s at it, he should change California’s abortion policies to reduce the killings of unborn babies. It would be the Christian thing to do. 

Originally published on The Resurgent

Trump pivots towards Democrats after health bill disaster

The White House issued a warning to Republicans yesterday. In the wake of the failure of the president’s health care reform bill, the Trump Administration signaled that it is willing to reach out to Democrats to advance its agenda if it can’t win support from the various Republican factions.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus underscored the potential shift in strategy on “Fox News Sunday” (quoted in the Wall Street Journal). “This president is not going to be a partisan president,” Priebus said. “I think it's time for our folks to come together, and I also think it's time to potentially get a few moderate Democrats on board as well.”

When asked if President Trump would move on from health care reform and allow the implosion of Obamacare to run its course as he threatened in a tweet, Politico notes that Priebus answered, “I don't think the president is closing the door on anything.”

“It's more or less a warning shot that we are willing to talk to anyone. We always have been,” he said in Time. “I think more so now than ever, it's time for both parties to come together and get to real reforms in this country.”

Since the decision to remove the AHCA bill from consideration on Friday, President Trump has alternately blamed the Democrats, blamed the House Freedom Caucus and reached out to Democrats.

The Washington Times reports that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was receptive to Trump’s overtures. “We Democrats, provided our Republican colleagues drop [repeal and replace] and stop undermining the ACA, are willing to work with our Republican friends — as long as they say no more repeal,” Mr. Schumer said. Schumer added in Time that, “if he changes, he could have a different presidency.”

With Republicans holding 52 seats in the Senate, virtually all reform legislation is subject to Democrat filibusters. A minimum of eight Democrats must cross over to kill the filibuster and allow a vote on any individual bill.

The Resurgent speculated in January that President Trump might forge a bipartisan coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans on a number of issues where the president’s platform is at odds with traditional Republican principles. During the campaign, Mr. Trump said that he wouldn’t mind being a “free agent” in his dealings with Congress.

The price for dealing with the Democrats on health care would be giving up the full repeal of Obamacare. Republicans currently don’t have enough votes for repeal, but many, including those in the House Freedom Caucus, would refuse to vote for anything less. The price of bringing Democrats on board other items in the Republican agenda, from tax reform to immigration, is likely to be just as unpalatable. The more the president moves to the left to appeal to Democrats, the more Republicans he will lose. The question is whether he can find a workable majority in the middle.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Where does Obamacare repeal go from here?

The American Health Care Act is dead… at least for now. Next week House conservatives may wake up to the fact that they sided with Democrats to kill a bill that repealed a large part of the Affordable Care Act and defunded Planned Parenthood.  Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the failure of the AHCA is that no better or more realistic alternative for repealing and replacing Obamacare has been offered by the party’s dissidents.

The fundamental problem faced by the GOP is a mathematical one. The Affordable Care Act was passed with 60 Democrat votes in the Senate to overcome a Republican filibuster. It was then amended by a reconciliation bill that only required a simple majority. In 2010, Democrats had 60 seats in the Senate. Today, the Republicans have 52 and five of those are not reliable for a clean repeal. The numbers are just not there for a clean repeal so where does the Republican repeal and replace effort go from here?

Perhaps nowhere. If President Trump stands by his ultimatum that if the AHCA failed that he would bypass Obamacare and move on to other issues, the repeal effort may be dead in the water for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, while President Trump may not be committed to a repeal of Obamacare, many other Republicans are. However, without the bully pulpit of the presidency backing them, repeal is even more difficult than before.

Republicans face two giant hurdles in their quest to repeal and replace Obamacare. The first is finding a consensus between moderate and conservative Republicans on health policy. The differences range from what to do about the Medicaid expansion to how to treat tax credits for health insurance premiums to defunding Planned Parenthood (Susan Collins, I’m glaring in your direction.) The second problem is finding 60 votes to defeat the Democrat filibuster that is certain to come with any repeal or reform legislation other than a budget reconciliation.

The death of the AHCA does nothing to bridge the gap between the Freedom Caucus and Republican moderates. Like the AHCA, any future bill will have to try to appeal to both wings of the party and, as a result, will probably be reviled by both sides.

Given that the Republicans have only 52 votes available, there are only three viable strategies for repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The Nuclear Option. Republicans can change Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster. The problem is that they still fall short of 51 votes due to probable defections by Susan Collins and the Medicaid Four. Without 51 votes, eliminating the filibuster is pointless and counterproductive. There is a good chance that Republicans will decide to eliminate the filibuster to ram other bills through, but this strategy seems unlikely to help them on Obamacare.

Stall and wait for 60 Senate votes. The Democrats forced the ACA through with a supermajority of 60 votes. Likewise, the GOP could force a repeal if they had 60 votes. The last time that Republicans held a 60-seat majority was the 61st Congress from 1909 through 1911.

Nevertheless, this is not as unlikely as it sounds. There is a chance for a big GOP win in the Senate in 2018 because 10 Democrat seats in red states are vulnerable to Republican challengers.

The downside is that the 2018 elections are almost two years away and a lot can happen. President Trump is not popular and Republican voters are seething at the way the health care bill was handled. Republicans have blown easy Senate races many times before. A big Republican win in 2018 is probably made less likely if the health insurance system implodes on President Trump’s watch.

Compromise. In today’s political environment, compromise is often seen as a dirty word. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to pass repeal and replace legislation any time soon. Not only will Republicans have to compromise among themselves, something the Freedom Caucus has been largely unwilling to do thus far, they will also have to compromise with Democrats. This is likely to be as unappealing as it sounds.

Democrats hold the key to reforming the health care system. Even if large parts of Obamacare can be repealed through reconciliation, much of the health care reform on the Republican agenda will have to pass a Democrat filibuster. With a minimum of eight Democrat votes needed, Republicans will have to learn give-and-take or resign themselves to at least two years of gridlock.

The failure to repeal Obamacare is not about a lack of will among most Republicans. It is about a lack of Republican votes in Congress, even though they hold a slim majority. If Republicans really want to rid the country of Obamacare, they must go beyond “just say ‘no’” to find a realistic legislative pathway to repeal. This will most likely involve compromising on an imperfect bill that can garner a majority.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Saturday, March 25, 2017

How Obamacare Was Passed - And Why It Can't Be Repealed By Reconciliation

A common question since President Trump took office is why Republicans can’t simply repeal the entire Affordable Care Act with a budget reconciliation. The Democrats passed it that way, the argument goes, so why should Republicans have to worry about filibusters, cloture votes and the arcane rules of the Senate when they try to repeal Obamacare?

The most obvious reason is that with the four Republican Senators who are holding out to preserve the Medicaid expansion, Republicans don’t even have a simple majority that would vote for a clean repeal. The Medicaid Four, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, vowed to oppose any repeal and replace bill that did not allow a phase out of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

A more technical reason is that Obamacare was not passed with a budget reconciliation. Not exactly anyway.

At the beginning of the 111th Congress in 2009, Democrats held 58 seats in the Senate. The wave election of 2008 had given them a majority that was just short of filibuster proof. Then the Democrats got two lucky – or at least underhanded – breaks. First, in what is often considered to be a stolen election, Al Franken unseated Republican Norm Coleman in a hotly contested recount. Second, Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) switched his party affiliation to Democrat in April 2009. Suddenly, the Democrats had the 60 votes necessary to stop a Republican filibuster in its tracks.

Specter’s defection set the stage for the Senate to pass the Affordable Care Act. On December 23, 2009, the Senate voted to end debate on the bill. The next day, Christmas Eve, the Senate passed the bill in a strict party line vote with every Republican voting “no.” The bill then went to the House of Representatives.

The next month, the Democrats faced a setback when Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) died suddenly. In a special election widely interpreted to be a referendum on the health care bill, Scott Brown defeated the heavily favored Democrat candidate and broke the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority.

What saved the Democrats was the fact that the House and Senate had negotiated most of their differences prior to the introduction of the bill into the Senate. To win over the final few House Democrats, the Democrat leadership urged them to pass the Senate bill with no changes and then pass a second bill via the reconciliation process. If the Senate bill was passed without changes, it would avoid going to conference and being subjected to a second Republican filibuster attempt before a final vote. The reconciliation bill, although its content would be restricted to tax, spending and debt limit legislation by Senate rules, would also not be subject to a filibuster.

After President Obama signed an Executive Order that purported to ensure that federal funds would not be used for abortion, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and the last few Democrat holdouts signed onto the bill. The promise not to fund abortion was broken almost immediately.

The Affordable Care Act was passed by the House without amendment on March 21, 2010 and went directly to the president’s desk. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 was passed by both Houses of Congress on March 25, 2010. President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23 and the Health Care Reconciliation Act on March 30.

The bottom line is that Obamacare passed with two bills. One was a reconciliation bill and one was not. The largest part of Obamacare legislation was passed in a normal bill that Republicans did not have the numbers to filibuster. The Republicans cannot pass a clean repeal because they do not have the votes to stop the Democrat filibuster that would be certain to come.

But what about the 2015 repeal bill that was vetoed by President Obama? How could this bill repeal the entirety of Obamacare and get past the Democrat filibuster to the president’s desk if it was limited to the Senate rules on budget reconciliations?

The answer is that the bill, HR 3762, which was assigned the unwieldy name “To provide for reconciliation pursuant to section 2002 of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2016,” was not a clean repeal of Obamacare any more than the AHCA was. The 2015 bill, like the AHCA, begins with the statement that the Affordable Care Act is amended, not repealed.

A House Republican fact page about HR 3762 also doesn’t make the claim that the bill would have repealed Obamacare in full. The bill summary on the page says, “HR 3762 repeals the health exchange subsidies and the Medicaid expansion included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), repeals the ‘Obamacare slush fund,’ eliminates federal funding for Planned Parenthood, repeals the individual and employer mandate penalties, and repeals the medical device and ‘Cadillac’ tax, among other provisions.” If you doubt this, you can read the text of the bill for yourself here.

HR 3762 might have been a better bill than the AHCA, but the Republican position in Congress was also better in 2015. Republicans held 54 Senate seats and 246 House seats in the 115th Congress. In the squeaker election of 2016, President Trump’s short coattails reduced those numbers to 52 Senate seats and 241 House seats. There is still a GOP majority in both houses, but a slimmer one with less margin for defections on votes.

HR 3762 passed the Senate by a 52-47 vote. Two Republicans voted against the measure, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine. Mark Kirk lost his reelection bid in 2016, but Susan Collins remains in the Senate as a prospective “no” vote on the AHCA.

The Medicaid Four were all in the Senate in 2015 and all voted for HR 3762. These four Senators switched their positions on the Medicaid expansion and made it necessary to present a weaker bill to Congress. It is ultimately these four Senators, along with Susan Collins, who should be held responsible for the failure of the GOP to repeal Obamacare because, without their votes, not even a reconciliation bill can pass, let alone a cloture vote on a clean repeal bill.

The failure of the Republicans to pass a clean repeal bill is not due to a lack of will on most members of the party. It is due to math. Democrats used the extremely rare and temporary 60 vote majority to force Obamacare through Congress with no Republican support. The current Republican position is much weaker than that of the Democrats in 2010.

If it is the fault of “RINOs” in Congress, it must be noted that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is not the RINO to blame. Ryan and other Republican leaders worked to provide the strongest bill possible given the electoral realities of their caucus.

The blame lies with a handful of Republican Senators who are holding up the drive for a strong bill to replace Obamacare. Their names are Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Cory Gardner (Col.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelly Moore Capito (W. V.) and Susan Collins (Maine).

Originally published on The Resurgent