Mitch McConnell Gambled Big On Obamacare And Lost

From:,  by Ben Domenech,  on Jul 18, 2017

McConnell squelched any possibility of pre-gaming consensus on the Senate side. It was a bet on his own ability as leader, and he lost.

For the past several years, no one has been more opposed to experimentation in the realm of Obamacare replacement plans than Mitch McConnell. He spent years discouraging Republicans from advancing replacement plans with the stated reason being that he alone would be in a position to forge a deal that allowed such plans to come to fruition. He maintained an image of confidence that when the time came, he would be able to balance the needs of insurers and providers, conservatives and moderates, reformers and those who favored the status quo in such a way as to achieve repeal and replacement. While the House of Representatives let a dozen plans bloom with co-sponsorships and internal debate, McConnell squelched any possibility of pre-gaming consensus on the Senate side. It was a gamble, a bet on his own ability as leader, and he lost.

At the end of the day, it wasn’t small government ideology that killed this bill. Mitch McConnell’s crafted backroom solution couldn’t even get the support of Jerry Moran.  The joint announcement yesterday that neither he nor Mike Lee could support this bill was a kindness, saving face after it became clear this was headed toward defeat – and not because of Ted Cruz, who was always going to get to yes, but because of a collection of moderates who spent years lying about their opposition to Obamacare for political reasons. Murkowski, Hoeven, Capito, Heller, Portman, and Collins wanted to have it both ways: they wanted to defend the Medicaid expansions (that bolsters the budgets in many of their states) while making noises about fixing the private insurance markets that have devastated their middle class. This is a failure of imagination and policy and a reminder that moderation does not equate to intelligence.

You’re welcome to disagree with this frame of what has happened to health care on the Senate side. But if you do, you’re wrong. Sources on all sides of this have reached the same conclusions, and the line used most often by staff and Senators as far apart as McCain and Lee are: “the last straw.” This was a devastating and embarrassing failure by a leader who had promised the president and his conference that this would get done. Wouldn’t a more trusted majority leader, one who didn’t need cliffs to govern, have pulled this legislation over the goal line? Even now, should Senators take McConnell’s announcement of the next steps – a vote for straight-up repeal and a two-year delay – as a concession? A good faith gesture? Or as a trick, a trap he’s setting for them? If the latter, how can he possibly ‘lead’ the conference?

It’s not just that McConnell failed to get the job done: typically deferential Senators are now defying him and openly rejecting the way he runs the Senate. Moran and McCain sounded the same note yesterday: move on to an open process, regular order, and a bipartisan healthcare bill. Such a move may sound like pie in the sky, but the reality is that the monopartisan backroom approach has utterly failed, and running the Senate like McConnell’s personal fiefdom isn’t working. The conservatives have been frustrated with this for some time. Now, they’re no longer alone.

There’s one more aspect of this that’s interesting: For all of his willingness to slam people who go against him, President Trump has not slammed the defectors on this. Perhaps he just doesn’t want to alienate his friends. Or it could be, despite his lack of interest in policy, that he has a grudging respect for the guys willing to walk away from a bad deal. If it’s the latter, this could be a moment – as we saw with Paul Ryan before – where this president learns that he cannot trust the Republicans who come down Pennsylvania Avenue to say to him “trust me, we’ve got this.” And that lesson will have consequences.

Ben Domenech is the publisher of The Federalist. Sign up for a free trial of his daily newsletter, The Transom.


I can only speak for myself, but I believe that the Republican Party’s worse enemy is Mitch McConnell. He has shown himself to be anything but a leader, in fact, he’s not been successful at anything except keeping his fat ass firmly planted in his Senate seat. All one has to do is compare McConnell’s successes with those of his democrat counterpart Harry Reid to see how feckless he’s been. Just think of the legislation that could have been voted out of the Senate with a Republican version of Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader.

It’s obvious that Mitch McConnell’s actions have been centered around retaining his power, not towards the betterment of the country, or even the Republican Party. He’s looking out for himself to the determent of anyone who gets in his way. He’s supposed to be the LEADER of the Senate and he’s done everything except lead. He is not a leader, he uses Senate rules and his control of finances to buy obedience and conformity from his cronies.

With Mitch McConnell in command, Republican leadership is a perfect oxymoron.




Categories: Political


6 replies

  1. I am always offended by congressional leaders who run their houses of government like “personal fiefdoms,” but that’s about all I can find to agree with in Mr. Domenech’s essay.

    There’s no doubt Mitch McConnell is a terrible Republican Senate leader. That’s because he’s a terrible Republican. But he’s hardly alone. There are a lot of so-called “moderates” in both the House and the Senate. The truth becomes painfully clearer with each passing day.

    But with repect to Mr. Domenech’s essay, this is what I don’t understand: When someone is organizing a firing squad to execute you, why waste your breath complaining about everything they’re doing wrong? We dodged a bullet, so I’m confused when Domenech asks: “Wouldn’t a more trusted majority leader, one who didn’t need cliffs to govern, have pulled this legislation over the goal line?”

    My answer to Mr. Domenech is: What conservative WANTS this legislation pulled over the goal line?

    I certainly don’t. Better to let Obamacare implode and Americans feel the painful consequence of letting a leftist like Obama run the government because then the stupids might actually learn something for once. Instead Republicans like McConnell and yes, Donald Trump, want to rush in and “save” us by giving us Obamacare-lite. Trump should thank his lucky stars that the inept McConnell can’t give him the “win” he wants of getting a bill – ANY bill – to sign.

    Domenech said: “This is a failure of imagination and policy….”

    No it’s not. This whole mess is a failure of staying true to the Constitution, first under Obama and now under Trump. Had we done that, we wouldn’t be spending endless hours debating over whose fault it is that we can’t fix this mess, because there would be no mess.

    Domenech said: “[McConnell thought]…he would be able to balance the needs of insurers and providers, conservatives and moderates, reformers and those who favored the status quo in such a way as to achieve repeal and replacement.”

    It’s not the job of the government to “…balance the needs of insurers and providers, conservatives and moderates….” The Constitution says nothing about doing those things, Mr. Domenech.

    This is why the country is all screwed up, and will remain so.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. He should have held a vote. Win or lose we’d know for certain how our State’s Senators really stand on the issue of Big Insurance Profits vs Healthcare. Instead, he enables fence sitters to baffle their voters back home with wishy washy if onlys and maybes.


  3. I agree with everything in the column, and Kathy’s and Garnet’s comments. McConnell’s a worthless POS. He’s got more chin than spine, and if you look at his picture you’ll see he has no chin.

    But I think the problem was compounded by the issue that none of the Establishment GOP hacks expected Trump to actually win. So there was never any effort made to put together a plan they’d really have to pass. It was simply their “let’s rile up our base” PR drumbeat that they could consistently run out at every election so they could keep their seats. Kinda like the dog who actually catches the car… now what?

    Deer in the headlights.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mitch McConnell didn’t just all of a sudden become a feckless leader when it came to the healthcare bill. He’s been this way for years, so it’s just a continuation of his wimpy leadership capabilities. in this case, his big mistake was ignoring the conservatives who were trying to keep promises to their constituents.

    McConnell, the other moderates and the outsiders who helped craft this bill are ignoring the elephant in the room, and that is realizing they need the conservatives if they ever hope to pass controversial legislation. They need those votes and continuing to bulldoze over them won’t bring them around.

    On the flip side, pundits and authors are focusing on the failures of the Senate and McConnell in particular, but they’re forgetting that the failure of this bill was a big win for the American people.


    • With a 49% disapproval rate in 2016, he had the highest disapproval rate out of all senators. McConnell has repeatedly been found to have the lowest home state approval rating of any sitting senator. I wish the pollsters would survey the other states view of McConnell, I’d love the opportunity to make my views known about turtleface.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: