The Republican Party’s utter failure to repeal Obamacare can teach us a number of lessons. More will surely present themselves as long as the ACA remains the law of the land, but for now, what can recent events on Capitol Hill tell us?
First, it is that the seven-year campaign promise turned legislative disaster shined floodlights on a massive fracture within the GOP caucus. From Susan Collins’ RINOism and John McCain’s “Maverick” attitude to Ted Cruz and Mike Lee’s true conservative principles, there’s a seemingly unbridgeable gap. During the back-and-forth bargaining over coverage for pre-existing conditions and consumer freedom amendments, no deal could be struck between the ideological extremities in the Republican caucus.
A significant portion of the blame also falls on President Trump, who has yet to properly utilize the power of the bully pulpit. He called for three mutually exclusive solutions within the span of hours on Twitter—clean repeal, repeal and replace, and Obamacare implosion. This in no way resembles good governance.
But the largest hurdle for GOP Senators to overcome was the coverage issue. As soon as they played into the hands of Democrats, who framed the debate in terms of how many people would “lose” their health insurance, Republicans were doomed. Though this spin about millions of Americans being stripped of their coverage has been largely debunked, it was more than enough to discourage Republicans from unifying around any form of repeal.
Thus, there is one moral of this story that far outweighs the others. Members of Congress—in this case, Republicans—are not willing to take the necessary political risks in order to implement sound policy. That is why the time has come for Americans to demand a constitutional amendment implementing congressional term limits. This is the only cure to ills wrought on Capitol Hill by career politicians and campaign-focused policymaking.
Thankfully, a term limits amendment to the Constitution has already been introduced in the House. In January, ten days after President Trump took office, Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) introduced H.J. Res. 50:
“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to limit the number of terms a Representative or Senator may serve.”
H.J. Res 50 would prevent Members of Congress from serving more than twelve years in office. For House Members, that’s 6 two-year terms. For Senators, 2 six-year terms.
This is not the first time such a bill has been introduced, but hopefully this one will actually get somewhere. Our government is an impasse. Politicians scarcely do what’s in the best interest of our nation’s woes—the national debt, the insolvency of entitlement programs, and growing intrusion into the citizenry’s private lives.
If Members of Congress were no longer held prisoner by never-ending election seasons, they might actually take risks, especially Republicans. The Democratic Party grew the size of the federal government to unimaginable size and scope in the eight years under President Obama. Now it is time for Republicans to scale it back to an even greater extent, which will only be possible if their tenures on Capitol Hill have a clear end date. That way, they will not be afraid to push for true conservative policies, which are far more difficult to swing with constituents. Democrats have the easy job of promising more and more, while Republicans carry the burden of having to take them away (and rightfully so).
Think of the possibilities if our Representatives and Senators returned to being true civil servants who aren’t beholden to re-election promises that are so rarely kept. We might actually see a day when the budget is balanced, when sound immigration reform is implemented, and yes, when the disaster that is Obamacare is fully repealed.
One can dream.
Image courtesy of The New York Times.