It remains to be seen if Senate Republicans will finally find enough votes to repeal Obamacare this week, but it appears they're making plans for the future under the assumption that this week's vote, if it's held at all, will fail.
Republicans are reportedly considering adding Obamacare repeal to the budget resolution that they also intend to use as a vehicle to cut taxes for the rich.
While the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that the repeal push under fiscal 2017 must die after Sept. 30, Republicans could provide reconciliation instructions for both health care and tax reform in the fiscal 2018 budget resolution that Congress must pass to again unlock the fast-track procedural powers. That might entail some procedural hurdles, but one GOP aide said Monday that because the Finance Committee has jurisdiction over about 95 percent of health care policy, “it’s not like we couldn’t slip it in anyway.”
In other words, this would put the GOP Congress right back where they were at the beginning of this year when they passed a budget resolution that calls for repealing Obamacare and cutting taxes for the rich in fiscal 2017.
I should say it will put them right back where they were every year since at least 2014 when they took control of both chambers. It's not as if repealing Obamacare and cutting taxes for the rich is a new strategy. It's a very old strategy.
I believe it would be far easier for them to cut taxes for the rich if they simply abandoned the effort to repeal Obamacare and moved on, but I suppose I don't want to give them any ideas.
It's immensely stressful to fight this fight again every few months, but I do believe fighting on two fronts at the same time makes it far less likely that Republicans will be able to accomplish either goal. It would be difficult to achieve both goals even if taking health care away from millions of people because it 'costs too much' were not also tied to massive tax cuts for the rich.
CNN hosted a health care debate last night in which Senator Lindsey Graham, author of the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill, said we might end up spending more on health care than we do the military, as if that's a bad thing, and he followed that up by calling for tax cuts.
Republicans are their own worst messengers.