Health Care: There’s an Empty Net. Will Conservatives Take the Shot?

Empty net (Mark Mauno / Flickr / CC)
Mark Mauno / Flickr / CC

When the conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus reunite in Washington, D.C. this week, they will have an unprecedented opportunity. It is the legislative equivalent of an empty net in hockey — when the opposing team brings its goalie into the attack, leaving its own goal undefended.

That is what happened in the push for the American Health Care Act, when President Donald Trump threw his weight behind Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership.

The president’s agenda is not dead, contrary to wishful thinking by the Democratic Party and its mainstream media chorus. But for the moment, there is a legislative vacuum on health care.

Democrats have no answer to the problems of Obamacare and have not yet presented any of the “fixes” to which they suddenly pretend they are now open. House Republican leaders have been chastened by their loss, and want to focus on tax reform. The policy wonks of Northwest D.C. are very quiet.

Now would be a perfect opportunity for conservative Republicans to unite behind a plan to repeal Obamacare. They could propose a simple, one-page repeal bill, effective at some future date, which would provide time to negotiate Obamacare’s replacement and make repeal the default if those talks fail. They could revive the repeal bill that passed the last Congress. They could also produce a new repeal-and-replace package that could later be pushed through reconciliation in the Senate.

Right now, there is no alternative to whatever the Freedom Caucus would propose — if they can settle on a good plan. The White House might be inclined to sign whatever can make it through Congress, and moderate Republicans might be shamed into backing the same legislation they voted for in the past, or some variant thereof.

There is no opposition at the moment, no goaltender. There is just an empty net — where even a long slapshot from the defense, if aimed correctly, could score.

Update: A reader points out an important nuance of hockey rules.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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