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I asked our team to pause for family time this week before kids return to school. The homepage is updated daily. The Digest returns on Monday, August 2. —Mark Alexander

Thomas Gallatin / Jul. 27, 2017

No Gain for Team GOP on ObamaCare Repeal

Seven Republicans vote no — and six flip-flopped from two years ago — as the GOP fails again to advance the “ball.”

The objective of team sports is to defeat the opposing team by scoring the most points before time runs out. In the game of football, this is accomplished through a series of plays designed to advance the ball into the end zone for a score. Common knowledge, we know, but it’s an appropriate analogy when applied to politics.

At the beginning of this year, Republicans looked to be the “team” on the rise. They seemingly had all the advantages, the presidency, majorities in both houses of Congress and the power to get the Supreme Court on the right track. And conservatives were understandably giddy over all the potential “winning” after experiencing so much losing under Barack Obama. But now, just eight months into the new “season,” a grim reality has begun to set in. While Team GOP may have the advantage in “field position,” they don’t have the “players” capable of moving the ball forward. Play after play the Republicans have run for “no gain.” And yesterday, a few rogue players from Team GOP sacked their own quarterback.

On Wednesday evening, seven Republican senators — Lamar Alexander (TN), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Dean Heller (NV), John McCain (AZ), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH) and Susan Collins (ME) — broke ranks and voted against what was being called a “clean repeal” of ObamaCare. The proposal would have repealed the “Affordable” Care Act’s individual and employer mandates as well as taxes and spending, but it would have left the law’s regulations largely untouched. Debate has raged over what this vote would have accomplished should it have passed, but that point now is moot as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will go back to the drawing board or risk punting the health care ball back to the Democrats.

Both moderates and conservatives oppose certain repeal efforts for different reasons, but the truth of the matter is that this “clean repeal” really wasn’t that great of an idea. It would have proved to only further increase the cost of insurance premiums as the young and healthy chose to opt out of having to pay for insurance coverage that far exceeded their needs. The argument that this would have further turned public sentiment against ObamaCare because insurance costs would only continue to skyrocket seems more like banking on wishful thinking rather realistic strategy.

To continue the football analogy, this is Team GOP finding themselves at third and long on the 50-yard line and choosing to line up in a goal-line formation with the planned play being a quarterback sneak. In other words, they have effectively already decided on punting.

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