WASHINGTON—The Rules Committee of the House of Representatives met shortly after dawn on Friday to try and set up a process by which Paul Ryan’s tax-cut plan could pass the full House at some point later in the day. On Thursday, after everything fell apart, the president* sent the head counselors at Camp Runamuck down to the Capitol to tell recalcitrant Republicans that what they had before them was his take-it-or-leave-it offer and that, if they chose not to pass it, then 24 million Americans wouldn’t lose their health insurance, get sick, go broke and/or die. The president* is betting that Republicans in Congress don’t want that on their consciences.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind as they day goes along. First, even if the House passes the dead fish, the Senate’s going to have its own meddling way with the country’s health-insurance system. Second, if it fails, there are still the other two prongs of the strategy that can come into play. For example, there’s a lot that HHS Secretary Tom Price, who would have been a member of the burn-it-all-down caucus were he still in the Congress, can do to sabotage the ACA further.
The important thing to remember is that almost everyone in the House majority is motivated by an ideological commitment bordering on a religious fervor that the involvement of government in things like health insurance is fundamentally illegitimate. That isn’t going to change no matter what happens in Congress on Friday, and the idea of the United States joining the rest of the industrialized world in offering most of its citizens a decent, uncomplicated healthcare system will continue to be in peril until that faith is abandoned. Nobody involved in this debate is good enough to make that happen.