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The Conservatives Made a Mistake

I fear the conservatives may have erred.

Let's accept that Paul Ryan's healthcare bill wasn't optimal. If the Congressional Budget Office was anywhere close to correct in its original estimations, the bill would have cut government spending by $12.5 trillion, cut taxes by $900 million, repealed Obamacare's tax increases, and instituted the largest entitlement reform in the last thirty years. But yes, it's true, it wasn't full repeal. Indeed, as long as insurance companies are required to cover pre-existing conditions, government healthcare is with us, and the bill would not have changed that. And it is certainly fair to doubt whether the third phase of Ryan's three-phase plan — the phase that would have returned the free market to insurance — would ever have gotten past the Democrats.

Let's also forget about any four-dimensional chess conspiracy theories. I do not believe even for a second this whole thing was a Steve Bannon plot to destroy Paul Ryan or a Paul Ryan plot to destroy Donald Trump. I think Ryan felt this was the best bill he could get past the moderates in the house who do not want to go home and explain to their constituents why they lost their Obamacare benefits, and the conservatives, who do not want to go home and explain why they didn't get full repeal. It's easy to pick on the speaker, but he doesn't live on talk radio where pure principle rules. He lives in reality where building a consensus through compromise is both necessary and difficult.

All this said, I simply feel that letting the bill die was such a huge mistake politically that it would have been worth eating the bill's flaws — trying to fix them in the Senate — and living to fight another day.

Republican Catastrophe is the Drudge headline as I write. And New Health Care Bill Failure Humiliates Trump. And Obamacare Stands — next to a picture of the former president giving a grim thumbs up.

Well, yeah.