Why Republicans Can’t Stop Trying to Repeal ObamaCare

Despite the troubles Republicans are having finding 50 senators to back the Graham-Cassidy bill, and despite the apparent deadline of midnight Saturday, I still don’t think we’ve seen the end of ObamaCare repeal. There’s a reason they can’t let it go, and I think I’ve finally found the right metaphor to explain it.

For years they’ve been telling their voters that they can replace the ObamaCare plow-horse with a unicorn: a plan with fewer taxes, fewer mandates, less regulation, less spending, but coverage as good or better than ObamaCare provides.

That worked really well on the campaign trail, but once they captured the White House and the Senate, Republicans suddenly found themselves on the spot to produce the unicorn, which they can’t because unicorns don’t exist. Of course they can’t admit that they’ve been bullshitting their voters all these years with unicorn fantasies, so they go round and round.

You could see this in all the various repeal-and-replace efforts we’ve seen so far this year: No one could explain what they accomplished or what problem they solved. No one could defend them in terms of healthcare policy. The entire justification was that voters had been promised a unicorn, so Republicans had to give them something, even if it bore no resemblance to a unicorn.

All through the process, Republicans have been saying that the unicorn was still coming: the current bill was just a placeholder to keep things moving. So the last few votes in the House were garnered by telling wavering moderates that the Senate had a unicorn. When the Senate tried to pass its “skinny repeal” in July, several senators were embarrassed that there was still no unicorn, and would only agree to vote for the bill if Paul Ryan would guarantee them that the House would change it again. Now, Graham and Cassidy are making a last-ditch promise that the states will provide the unicorn, once the federal government has block-granted the money to them.

Unsurprisingly, Republican governors like Nevada’s Brian Sandoval are reluctant to take responsibility for producing a unicorn. Sandoval sees that the people in his state will have the same needs they do now, but less money to fulfill them. Graham-Cassidy may give him the flexibility to decide who should go without, but not the resources to provide the care needed.

Flexibility with reduced funding is a false choice. I will not pit seniors, children, families, the mentally ill, the critically ill, hospitals, care providers, or any other Nevadan against each other because of cuts to Nevada’s health-care delivery system proposed by the Graham-Cassidy amendment.

So for now it may look like Graham-Cassidy is failing, but you can count on it: There will be another attempt somehow. Republican voters were promised a unicorn, and there must be one out there somewhere.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • prairiemaryblog  On September 25, 2017 at 11:51 am

    The joke that comes to mind is about the child who wanted a pony, but only received a pile of horse shit. Do unicorns produce shit? If they are Repubs, they evidently do.

  • Larry Benjamin  On September 25, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Single-payer would give us a real unicorn of lower costs and better coverage, but the Republicans aren’t willing to consider it. But if the Democrats take over Congress in 2018 and pass single-payer, I wonder if Trump will sign it just so he can say that he got rid of Obamacare.

  • Xan  On September 25, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    No worries. I hear you need a virgin to attract a unicorn, and something tells me the Republican caucus is full of them.

  • Jerry LeClaire  On September 25, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    The Unicorn Analogy is brilliant…and so true.

  • Jen  On September 25, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Your healthcare bill metaphor brings to mind Ringling Bros’ Lancelot, the Living Unicorn. Lancelot was a goat with a single horn in the center of his head (which I learned today was accomplished through a surgical procedure which brought the horn buds together) which Ringling Bros claimed was a unicorn that appeared unbidden at a circus stop. I was a fairly young child at the time of Lancelot, and even I could see that it clearly wasn’t a unicorn, but Ringling Bros stuck to their story.

    Lancelot is a pretty fitting metaphor for the on-going Republican ACA repeal bills (which I have no doubt we will continue to see, as long as they have control of Congress); at least now, I’ll be able to get a nice little hit of nostalgia with each horrible, horrible bill.

  • Nancy R Minter  On September 25, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Implant a horn on that plow-horse and call it a unicorn. Trumps base will swallow whatever kool-aid he serves them. Remember the folks who hated Obamacare but were smugly satisfied with themselves cause they had the ACA?

  • Jay Spears  On September 27, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Although your unicorn analogy is compelling, it misses what I feel is an even more salient point about their obsession to repeal and replace: flat-out racism. The Repubs and their base will not rest until the abomination of A Black Man in the White House is extirpated from the face of the Earth. The unicorn is intellectual; the racism is visceral. To them, I bet the latter is more important.

    • weeklysift  On September 30, 2017 at 10:05 am

      The two are related. It’s so easy to sell Republican voters the idea that a much better plan is possible, because they are convinced the Black President didn’t really have America’s best interests at heart.

      • Jay Spears  On September 30, 2017 at 12:01 pm

        Right. Or that any black person could do anything good. Kinda like in my dad’s hometown of Enterprise, Alabama: the boll weevil came along one year & destroyed the cotton crop. Certain they would all be ruined, someone came up with the idea to plant this new-fangled crop called peanuts. They made more money than ever before, and decided to raise a memorial in the center of town. God forbid they put up a statue of black GW Carver! To this day, a monument to the boll weevil stands in the center of Enterprise.

  • nwbaxter  On October 1, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Great analogy!


  • By False Choices | The Weekly Sift on September 25, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    […] This week’s featured post is “Nationalism Reconsidered” and “Why Republicans Can’t Stop Trying to Repeal ObamaCare“. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: