Ep. 877 Why the Health Care Bill Failed, and What It Means for the Future
The showdown dramatized a dilemma for Speaker Ryan. He has to craft major legislation that can win votes both from the small-government, anti-regulatory House Freedom Caucus and from the smaller but still numerically significant bloc of pragmatic Republican moderates. The AHCA disappointed both groups: it left too many people uninsured and was too unpopular for the moderates to be comfortable with it, while it left too much regulation in place to please the Freedom Caucus. Yet Ryan could not risk moving decisively toward the Freedom Caucus or the moderates without the risk of losing more votes in the other direction. The House Republican middle, the conservative but not hardline majority that keeps Ryan in the speaker’s chair, is a more unstable bloc than either the moderates or Freedom Caucus. It’s neither fish nor fowl, neither unstintingly right-wing nor as ideologically loose as the moderates. This not only doomed the AHCA, but it will short-circuit other difficult legislative initiatives in the future. Congressional Republicans are trying to be two contradictory things at once, and Speaker Ryan cannot split the difference—assuming anyone can.
March 24, 2017
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