Brutal. Shameful. Embarrassing. America hasn’t seen a politician take an L this bad since Papa Pope read Fitz. In case you missed the sound of a million souls crying out in joy, then suddenly drowned out by loud laughter, the Republicans’ ill-fated attempt to scrap and replace Obamacare flopped miserably today.
P90X Ryan (aka the speaker of the House) went running to Part-Time President Trump to tell him that the American Health Care Act didn’t have enough votes to pass, and Donald Trump (or Paul Ryan) pulled the bill. So how the heck did America get here, and what happens now? We’ve laid it out for you in gifs and memes.
What Was Congress Voting on Today?
Republicans planned a vote Friday to repeal and replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act. There are 435 members in the House of Representatives—241 Republicans—and Republicans needed 216 to pass the bill on to the Senate. At first they had no chance; then Speaker Ryan said that they’d work all weekend. Then President Trump gave an ultimatum and said that the vote must happen by 4 p.m.
So it was already not looking good. Republicans had spent all night trying to rewrite a bill that they had seven years to come up with. All in the vain hope of getting wayward “nos” to switch to “yes.”
What Was the Holdup?
Besides that fact that repeal and replace is bad policy? Or that only 17 percent of Americans like the replacement bill? Or that Trump’s 37 percent approval rating is scaring Republicans from having his back?
The ACA is the policy avatar of Barack Obama himself. Republicans, some fueled by racism, some by ideology, hate everything about Obama but are the first ones showing up with an empty cup when the goodies from his policies start flowing. For example, a big holdup in the repeal bill was what to do with the “essential health benefits” provision of the ACA. Some conservative Republicans wanted it gone, but moderate Republicans and senators were afraid to touch it.
Below is an easy explainer of what happened, using hamburgers instead of health care:
Imagine that you want to buy a hamburger. At one burger spot, they give you two buns with no meat. At another, they give you ground beef and lettuce but no bun. At a third, they literally give you a pound of ham painted brown with a crown on it. They ALL claim to sell you hamburgers, and you never know how much it’s going to cost until you order, and then you’re locked in. Everyone got so angry that the government stepped in and established O-burgerCare. Under O-burgerCare, no one can sell something called a “hamburger” unless it has two all-beef patties, two slices of bread and at least one condiment.
The “essential health benefits” provision of the ACA essentially does the same thing: It sets a standard of things that MUST be included in any insurance plan so you know what you’re paying for. Do you always want lettuce or pickles? Of course not, but at least now everyone knows what they’re getting.
Conservative Republicans don’t want you to have hamburgers or health coverage, and their plan leaves 26 million people out in the cold. Speaker Ryan’s answer for those people?
What Are the Democrats Doing?
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is doing doughnuts in Ryan’s front yard, laughing, with a glass of Trump wine in her hand. Democrats warned Republicans for years that health care was serious policy, and you can’t just talk about tearing something down for seven years and not have a good plan to replace it. This is actual live footage of Democrats leaving a GOP committee meeting on the replacement bill:
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez encouraged voters to call Congress to save Obamacare, Democrats stood their ground and activists got a big win. So far, on the Muslim ban, wiretapping and now replacing Obamacare, Trump is 0-3.
What Happens Now?
Hard as it was for Ryan to admit it, Obamacare is still “the law of the land.” Trump, quick to brag even about a loss, spoke from Trump Tower, claiming that it was the Democrats’ fault and that pulling his own signature bill, which he had campaigned on for years, was somehow a victory.
Objectively, this is a huge loss for Republicans, a narrow victory for Democrats and a huge victory for voters. Trump’s approval ratings will take another hit, and nobody in Congress has any reason to go out on a limb for Ryan anymore. Ryan all but said that they won’t even try to repeal the Affordable Care Act anymore. Democrats saved Obama’s signature legislation, but they are not in a position to actually fix the things that are legitimately wrong with it.
As for the regular people, 26 million Americans will still have coverage for the foreseeable future. A bonus victory goes to Obama, who knew damn well that Trump wasn’t smart enough to undo his signature legislation.
So What Can You Do?
You realize this fight isn’t over, right? You need to call your representatives on their cellphones and let them know that you need your health care. That Ryan and the crew better not try to gut Obamacare in the middle of the night when no one is watching. They know when that hotline bling, it can only mean one thing. Voters are unhappy. And if there’s one thing even Republicans worry about, it’s unhappy voters.
Don’t know your member of Congress? Type your zip code in right here.
Even if the replacement bill has been scrapped for the foreseeable future, now is the perfect time to remind your member of Congress to stop wasting time on ending health care and get back to the business of banning Muslims, hiding Russian collusion and putting white supremacists at the highest reaches of American government.