Yesterday you read on the PJMedia Live Blog that Trump’s own cabinet is split on his decision to to tackle ObamaCare once again. And in last night’s Politico report, headlined “McConnell to Trump: Health care’s all yours,” it seems that the Senate majority leader isn’t on board, either. In a brief interview, McConnell said, “I look forward to seeing what the president is proposing and what he can work out with the speaker. I am focusing on stopping the Democrats’ ‘Medicare for none’ scheme.”
Politico’s Burgess Everett provides some back story, reminding readers that McConnell “spent untold weeks and months on the party’s health care quagmire in 2017, when the GOP controlled both the House and the Senate and still failed to repeal Obamacare.” He also correctly notes that the failed repeal effort “caused endless headaches for Republicans as their replacement plan fell apart first, followed by the so-called ‘skinny’ plan they slapped together at the last minute.”
True enough. And, as always, thanks in no small part to the late John McCain.
Flash-forward to the now:
Now in divided government, with the Senate majority up for grabs next year and McConnell himself running for reelection, another divisive debate over health care is the last thing McConnell needs. But that’s exactly where Trump is taking Republicans after his administration endorsed a wholesale obliteration of the law in the courts earlier this week.
Thanks for avoiding any loaded language in your totally unbiased report, Burgess!
“So,” Everett writes, “the Kentucky Republican and his members are putting the onus on the president to figure out the next steps.”
If true, this is actually pretty smart, politically. Trump is going after the zombified remains of ObamaCare in the courts — he doesn’t actually need McConnell on this one. And both GOP caucuses on Capitol Hill seem to have a once-bitten/thrice-shy attitude after getting drubbed in the House election last year. Whatever the case, I’m happy just so long as McConnell does whatever is necessary, politically, to keep his judicial confirmation machine humming along. McConnell might sometimes be a frustrating majority leader, but Cocaine Mitch is happily hellbent on getting nominees on benches ASAP.
So the best politically viable course might be for Republicans to allow themselves the appearance of distance from Trump, while the real action is going on in a completely different branch of government.
There’s another possible angle to this.
The sub-head to the Politico report says that “Senate majority leader signaled in an interview that he’s more interested in taking on Democrats than jumping into a divisive debate within his own party.”
McConnell didn’t make any outright statement, so maybe he was signaling, or maybe Everett is just reading too much into what McConnell actually said, in order to make the GOP look more divided than it actually is.
You make the call.