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OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

No dishonor in GOP, Dems working together on health care

Sen. Mitch McConnell should make the call — to Sen. Chuck Schumer.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, left, Sen. Chuck Schumer,

House Speaker Paul Ryan, left, Sen. Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell applaud a video message by President Donald Trump before the congressional baseball game on June 15, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

I’m one of those hard-nosed conservatives who wanted Obamacare repealed root and branch.

I wanted it for two reasons. Growing U.S. debt will drown our kids in red ink if not addressed. And, as a conservative, I trust free market solutions more than government ones. Free markets — not the rigged one we have now — have done more to uplift the downtrodden in the past two centuries than every social welfare program in the history of history combined. I’m willing to bet that real competition could do the same for health care.

What I think doesn’t much matter, though. There were never enough votes in the House or Senate to fully repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act — not even close. Only a handful of members were willing to support full repeal.

And you know what? That’s OK.

You and I may not always like it, but this is a country of majority rule. We have the ACA because Obama was elected in 2008; Congress is now looking to restructure it because President Donald Trump was elected in 2016. To the victor goes the spoils.

But with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struggling mightily to find 50 Republican votes to pass Trumpcare — or whatever it’s now being called — the unimaginable may happen after the 4th of July break. McConnell may actually be forced to invite Democrats — DEMOCRATS! — to the table to pass Obamacare fixes that both parties can live with.

The horror of it.

It would be something quite new in modern times, at least where health care is concerned. The Democrats, remember, pushed through Obamacare in 2010 without a single Republican vote.

What it certainly would have done is put Republican skin in the ACA game, meaning Republicans wouldn’t have spent the past seven years bashing a program they helped pass. And as flaws in the ACA were revealed, Democrats and Republicans would have sought fixes together.

How kumbaya.

Congress has been mired in this type of partisan power politics for going on 20 years. It’s not working. It guarantees that the party of out of power will spend every waking hour bashing the programs and decisions of the party in power. It makes just under half our representatives, and the political committees and allies who fund them, root against anything and everything the other party passed.

Not a healthy dynamic.

When I vote for a representative, I expect him or her to fight tooth-and-nail for the principles in which they believe. But losing a legislative fight isn’t the same as surrender. It’s simply — mathematically — losing a legislative fight. There’s no dishonor in it if you’ve worked as hard as you could to advance a position while the debate was on.

An alternative to McConnell reaching out to Democrats is letting Obamacare utterly fail. Never mind the suffering it might cause — so long as it could be blamed on the Democrats.

Is that really the new normal?

Make the phone call, Sen. McConnell. I probably won’t like what you and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer come up with, but you know what? I’ll just have to deal with it. My view didn’t have enough votes.

William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant to Republicans.


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