Suddenly, a defeated McConnell sees the value of a bipartisan healthcare plan

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been unable to push through his vaunted “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been unable to push through his vaunted “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act. Associated Press

This is what happens when you try to muscle through in six months — and in secret — what you could have done over seven years. You bear the brunt of the responsibility for the GOP’s disaster of a healthcare plan getting flushed down the tubes.

This is what happens when you do anything, short of crawling under a rock, to avoid having to look your scared and angry constituents in the eye at town hall meetings. When you emerge from wherever you’ve been hiding, those constituents are still scared, still angry, having flooded your offices on the Hill with phone calls and emails to make sure you get the message.

This is what happens when one of your own gets seriously sick, then gets the treatment he needs — stat! — because he has insurance that he and his Senate colleagues refuse to give up because they sure don’t want the misbegotten healthcare with which they want to saddle the rest of us. Americans wish John McCain well, but are resentful.

Since his campaign, President Trump and the Republican Party have pushed hard for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

This is what happens when you close the door on Senate colleagues who are women. There were no women at the table to hammer out the healthcare bill. Not that it would have guaranteed more palatable legislation. But the optics and, seemingly, the intent were clear. So it’s deliciously ironic that three Republican women — Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine; Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia; and Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, sank Republican leaders’ backup plan.

Plan A was a nonstarter — 22 million people would move from the insured to the uninsured column, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The revised, slightly more moderate Plan B, unveiled last week, had lost four crucial GOP votes by Monday, making the bill dead on arrival. Then Senate President Mitch McConnell, looking to save face, pushed to simply repeal Obamacare, kicking the long promised “replace” part far down the road. Collins, Capito, and Murkowski said, basically, “We’re not going for it.”

And this is what happens when arrogantly playing only to your political base and campaign donors doesn’t do the trick. You go on national TV and declare:

“Passing this legislation will provide the opportunity for senators of all parties to engage in a fresh start and a new beginning for the American people.”

How magnanimous. This was ringmaster McConnell, serving a lukewarm slice of humble pie.

But this is the overdue opening that Democrats, if are true to their word, should charge through. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, of New York, said Tuesday from the Senate floor that, “Rather than repeating the same failed partisan process yet again, Republicans should work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets, and improves our healthcare system.”

Schumer’s on point.

Apparently, bipartisanship is what can happen when the Party of No becomes the Party of Can’t.