Even if the GOP health bill passes, Mitch McConnell must go

  • Mitch McConnell has betrayed conservative and good government principles time and again.
  • McConnell's handling of the Obamacare repeal and replacement bill process is an embarrassment.
  • McConnell seems to represent no one but lobbyists and fellow career politicians.

Whether the GOP Obamacare replacement bill somehow passes next week or goes down in flames, one thing is certain: It's time for Mitch McConnell to step down as Senate Majority Leader and maybe even quit the Senate completely.

That's not just because McConnell has had trouble marshaling enough Republican votes for the bill so far, though getting the troops in line is often the top job for any Congressional leader.

The main reason is that McConnell apparently stands for nothing but the political class status quo. He continues to operate unilaterally and often secretly to undermine traditional conservative Republican beliefs and campaign promises.

That's what's happening right now. It's not just the Democrats complaining about the secrecy McConnell employed in crafting the Obamacare replacement bill. Republicans like Senator Lisa Murkowski openly complained that they were in the dark about the bill until it was released to the public last week.

Even members of the so-called "working group" had blind spots. Senator Ted Cruz told conservative radio host Mark Levin last week that he didn't know what was in the bill which was simply being crafted by McConnell's staff.

Of course, McConnell wasn't keeping the bill hidden from everyone. Top pharma industry lobbyist Stephen Ubl told a reporter last week that his lobbying organization, known as PhRMA, is "very engaged" in crafting the new health bill.

"So the question remains, if Republican rank-and-file voters have rejected the GOP establishment in Washington, who exactly is Mitch McConnell representing in the Senate and as Senate Majority Leader?"

A study conducted by the left-leaning money and politics watchdog Maplight that showed McConnell is a top recipient of insurance and pharma industry campaign donations, as are most of the other key members of that Senate health bill working group.

Now that more of the bill has been officially unveiled, the public hates it: The measure got just a 17 percent approval rating in one poll and is not even close to popular in any other survey. But it doesn't matter whether the bill is a dud because of its individual policies or because it is another massive and complex plan that was rushed to fruition.

McConnell has failed the American people by committing so many of the sins committed during the also very unpopular Obamacare drafting and Congressional voting process. A real representative of the people, liberal or conservative, would never do what McConnell is doing now.

As far as undermining conservative principles, the McConnell bill does plenty of that as it continues to dictate what kind of insurance Americans can buy, keeps almost all of the massive subsidies from the ACA, and seems to protect the insurance and pharma industries instead of repealing Obamacare.

This could be written off as just another case of Washington duplicity, but when you're the top Congressional leader of a Republican Party that's made repealing Obamacare its rallying cry for at least seven years, it's far from an acceptable position.

Stalwart conservatives are surely not surprised by this latest McConnell betrayal. He first started to incur conservative ire in 2014 when he helped to defeat several Tea Party Republican Senate primary candidates in favor of GOP Senate contenders who backed him for the Majority Leader position. He pulled the same strategy last year.

But the worst offense for many rank-and-file conservative voters was McConnell's conduct after the GOP won control of the Senate in 2014. Even before that new Republican Congress fully arrived in Washington, McConnell preemptively gave away the key Congressional bargaining chip known as the "power of the purse" by repeatedly promising not to shut the government down over Obamacare funding or anything else.

Thus, the Obama White House and the Democrats felt little need to negotiate or compromise. They had won a battle so many Republican voters sent their Representatives and Senators to win... or at least fight.

It was that kind of betrayal that many experts believe helped launch the Trump revolution against establishment Republicans. And as the numbers proved in primary after primary in 2016, the battle wasn't even close.

McConnell may be making nice to the White House in public now, but his execution on this health bill is doing President Donald Trump no favors. If the bill doesn't pass, much of the blame will be on Trump's shoulders.

So the question remains, if Republican rank-and-file voters have rejected the GOP establishment in Washington, who exactly is Mitch McConnell representing in the Senate and as Senate Majority Leader? After all, his record as a conservative Republican is pathetic. His record as Majority Leader is equally troubling with this health bill problem and the net loss of GOP seats he oversaw in the 2016 election.

McConnell is doing a great job of upholding the D.C. status quo that so many voters from Trump supporters to Bernie Sanders backers are clearly tired of. Lobbyists and career politicians are getting great support and representation from McConnell and they seem to be his true constituency. Everyone else is getting the shaft.

It doesn't matter if you're conservative, liberal, progressive, pro-Trump, or anti-Trump. The kind of politics Mitch McConnell practices doesn't work for any of us. Even if the health bill passes, the debacle that is this bill and the way it was drafted should be the final straw. President Trump promised to drain the swamp both during the campaign and his inaugural address. And Mitch McConnell is the Swamp King.

Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

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