Republicans are poised to take the unprecedented step of passing a sweeping piece of legislation — a bill to eliminate health insurance from millions of Americans — without so much as a single hearing. In defense of his plan to keep his bill secret, and rush it into law with minimal public scrutiny, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claims the debate has really been going on for seven years anyway.
“Look, we’ve been dealing with this issue for seven years,” McConnell tells the New York Times. “It’s not a new thing.” McConnell adds that there have been “gazillions of hearings on this subject” over the years.
The reality, of course, is that Republicans have spent seven years attacking Obamacare and promising to deliver something better. McConnell insisted that his party truly did favor health care reform, and they would work together with both parties to pass it if they had a chance. “I hear it said repeatedly by some on the other side that Republicans are not in favor of health care reform,” he told reporters in 2009. “I can’t find a single Republican senator who said that, nor whose speeches have not illustrated and underscored that we need to have health care reform.” He pleaded, over and over, that the parties needed to “start over.” McConnell promised that he shared the same goals as Obama — bending the cost curve down, and covering the uninsured — but could do it better: “We know we have a cost problem, and we know we have an access problem.”
In 2017, when McConnell finally had the full control control of government that he sought, he promised that he would not return the health insurance system to the pre-Obamacare status quo. “Some contend that, by fulfilling our promise to the American people, we’re somehow trying to go back to the way things were before ObamaCare — which we all know is untrue.”
The entire trick, all seven years, was to avoid committing himself to any particular alternative. And the reason was simple: McConnell could not produce an alternative that actually delivered what he promised. He has spent seven years sustaining the fiction that he can produce the magical better plan without any trade-offs. The “gazillions of hearings on this subject” have all been about the bill Democrats wrote. None of them have concerned the one McConnell wants to pass in secrecy and haste.