- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2017

Sen. Rand Paul has suggested President Trump has been sold “a bill of goods” by House Speaker Paul Ryan, and is essentially getting played on Obamacare’s repeal and replacement.

In an interview with MSNBC last week, Mr. Paul said: “You know, I think that [Mr. Trump has] been told things by House leadership that frankly just are not accurate. He’s been told this is [the] only vehicle, Paul Ryan’s been saying it for weeks, it’s a binary choice. You either take it — it’s my way or the highway. I think [Mr. Trump’s] been fed a bill of goods on this thing. And I do believe that there is something that can pass that actually would bring down insurance costs. But this bill doesn’t do it.”

And he’s not the only one.

According to a report from The New York Times, Mr. Trump himself is having doubts on Mr. Ryan’s plan.

“Mr. Trump has told four people close to him that he regrets going along with Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s plan to push a health care overhaul before unveiling a tax cut proposal more politically palatable to Republicans,” The Times reported. “He said ruefully this week that he should have done tax reform first when it became clear that the quick-hit health care victory he had hoped for was not going to materialize on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the act’s passage, when the legislation was scheduled for a vote.”

It’s true Mr. Ryan put the GOP in a negotiating hole from the get-go. The fact he never got a buy-in from conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity or Freedom Works before he unveiled his replacement bill is mind-boggling.

Still, we are where we are. It’s not Mr. Trump’s fault the House GOP never came together when it crafted Obamacare replacements, and whatever fights members are having right now will be inevitable in any new bill. We’re no longer living in 2009, and a simple Obamacare repeal is just not politically viable anymore, no matter what Mr. Paul preaches. He’s probably praying the bill dies in the House so that his feet won’t be put to the fire in terms of crafting a repeal in the Senate.

The bottom line: A repeal and replacement is necessary. And it’s going to be up to Republicans to solve — for better or for worse. Is the GOP really good with the status quo? Are they OK with keeping Obamacare after campaigning against it for nearly seven years?

Do they really believe in 2018 midterm elections they can still blame Obama for Obamacare without having moved a finger to try to make things better for the American public? Premiums will continue to rise, health care options decline. The deficit will skyrocket as government spending soars and an entitlement will become entrenched without any hope for reform.

I refuse to believe this is some sort of three-dimensional chess, where Speaker Ryan conned President Trump into a bill that would never be successful. Both his speakership and Mr. Trump’s campaign promises are tied to it. In a way, if the bill goes down, it’s mutually assured destruction. And let’s be clear: Mr. Ryan wants a win and he wants to keep his speakership.

If Mr. Ryan loses his leadership position, who will replace him? Will they be any more willing to work with Mr. Trump or be able to whip the caucus to pass tax reform? Both men have seemed to come together to work to replace Obamacare and have gone all-in.

If they can’t get it done, what hope is there for the rest of Mr. Trump’s agenda? Republicans will have proved themselves unable to govern. That they’re an obstructionist party, nothing more.

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