Thursday, June 29, 2017

Why Are Republicans Trying To Pass A Bill That Few Like?

The Republican Senate is pushing as hard as it can to pass a bill that few outside of Trump's base support.  This survey shows that the healthcare bill and Trump's approval ratings are not popular with independents.

The survey data raises an interesting question about the Republican Congress.  Why are GOP politicians insensitive to public opinion?  Do they believe they can win elections without support from independents?  For many Republicans in the House who represent safe districts, many of which are only safe due to gerrymandering, the answer is yes.  They can be reelected without votes from independents.  They worry more about facing a more conservative candidate in a GOP primary than they do about beating a Democrat in the election.  Its a different story in the Senate.  Republican senators can't rely on gerrymandering to protect their seats.  That is especially true in swing states where senate races are often very close.

Another explanation for the Republican effort in the Senate to repeal Obamacare is that the proposed replacement for Obamacare is consistent with GOP ideology.  It cuts taxes for the rich and it cuts funding for entitlement programs.  Its hard for any Republican to take a position that runs counter to an ideology that has been successful for many years. Moreover, many hard core libertarians, who want to shrink government, can't agree on a replacement for Obamacare because any replacement bill is inconsistent with libertarian ideology.  Libertarians are a small but powerful part of the GOP base.  They provide funding for Republican campaigns, and they fund conservative think tanks which have a role in shaping opinion within the Republican base.  Repealing Obamacare has created big problems for moderate Republican senators.  Its easier to prevent the passage of liberal bills in Congress than it is to take away benefits from millions of citizens by killing a liberal bill that provides essential services like healthcare for needy citizens.  Moderate Republican senators have been put in a bind.  They are getting a lot of negative feedback back home from voters and from Republican governors who don't want the burden of dealing with the aftermath of large cuts in Medicaid in the Republican bill.  Party loyalty and ideological purity has made life more difficult for moderates who face elections in 2018.  It would be lot easier for them to fix the flaws in Obamacare than to promote a bad healthcare bill.  That is not a likely option for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment