It’s worse than most people think. If the Freedom Caucus hadn’t stood in the way of triggering the three-bucket health care solution rightly tagged as “RINOcare,” and it had passed, we’d be on Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) “long game” train that would never reach its destination.
Many people have talked about the “third bucket” of the Republican’s health care plan as one that was particularly enticing. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) explained on “Face the Nation” that the third bucket was the “sucker’s bucket.” He said that everything in the third bucket was put there because there would be a need to have eight Democrats to vote for it, according to the way the Senate is run. Cruz said that phase three was never going to happen because, “You can’t get eight Senate Democrats to agree on saying good morning.”
Jim Geraghty at National Review also questioned phase three, noting that it would be quite a difficult road to get eight Democratic Senate seats to flip in 2018. He wrote, “Nuking the filibuster appears to be off the table, at least for now. So what’s the roadmap to get to 60 votes? And if there is no viable path to get 60 votes … how do the ideas in ‘Phase Three’ ever get enacted?”
So, why would “nuking the filibuster” be off the table in the first place?
I wrote a piece on Mitch McConnell’s recent memoir, “The Long Game” a while back, and I noted that the book is peppered from beginning to end of McConnell’s love for winning elections. It’s what keeps him going, and I recall him saying something like, “The best way to become a great senator, is to remain one.” He is very proud of the elections he, “wasn’t supposed to” win. But he also said plenty about how he believes in the Senate as an institution which must survive for our own good. It is because he believes in the institution over everything else and that he loves winning elections that we had a phase three.
The way the AHCA was set up, looking back, has McConnell’s fingerprints all over it for two reasons. One, the sucker’s bucket, as Cruz aptly termed it, promised all the goodies conservatives wanted yet took eight Democrats to enact. “Impossible!” said nearly everyone. But if you look at it from McConnell’s point of view, it makes sense. He will not change Senate procedure in his “precious institution” where he has sat for 32 years.
The second reason this reeks of McConnell-esque machinations is because a phase that can be put off for campaign purposes — as in spending all of 2018 campaigning on replacement that would take a filibuster-proof Senate when there will be 23 Democrats coming up for reelection — is a chance, as several sources have said, that Republicans can gain seats.
I’m sure we all remember leadership’s mantras in 2011, that they were only half of a third in 2013, that they needed the Senate in 2015, that they needed the White House in 2016, and now, apparently, Mitch McConnell is saying because of Senate rules he needs a filibuster proof majority in the elections of 2018. In every one of these arguments, the leadership continued to claim they would repeal, “if,” the people continued to elect more and more Republicans.
This is precisely why he recently said the following:
In other words, McConnell was able to cast blame on the House for a promise in the Senate that he had no intention of honoring UNLESS we elected a filibuster-proof Senate. Even then the law would still not be repealed.
It’s my guess McConnell is probably a little upset that all eyes aren’t on him in the Senate, which they would have been had the House passed RINOcare. He would have been able to command attention for the next two years, promising once again to do what he said he would do — once the voters gave him even more of a majority of course.
In reality, he’s the keeper of his precious institution that under his management is guaranteeing Obamacare will remain.