×

McConnell threatens to go rogue on health bill

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now resorting to threats to save his crony capitalist Obamacare replacement bill.
  • The GOP has promised to repeal Obamacare for eight years, but now its top Congressional leader is threatening to prop it up.
  • This is the clearest example yet of how the political class operates in Washington.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already proven himself to be ineffective in his most important job of getting votes lined up and bills passed. But now he's sending out the clearest signal yet that he's getting desperate: He's threatening to simply give in to the Democrats.

That's basically the message McConnell sent out Thursday as it's getting clearer that he cannot get enough of his fellow Republicans to back his Obamacare replacement bill. McConnell told a Rotary Club crowd in his home state of Kentucky that if the votes don't suddenly emerge, he'll have to back the Democrats in their call to shore up the failing Obamacare insurance markets.

Baloney.

This is really a false choice McConnell is pushing simply to continue hiding his real agenda of helping his crony capitalist friends with a monstrous bill that doesn't really repeal Obamacare or solve our health coverage problems. And it's even more dubious now that President Donald Trump has offered him and the rest of the Republicans a decent escape valve by endorsing the idea of just repealing Obamacare now and crafting a better replacement bill later.

Of course, McConnell didn't take a shine to that idea since he clearly has other priorities. And now that those priorities are in their gravest danger yet, he's threatening to break ranks to serve the minority party's agenda. This is the political equivalent of a kid who protests the fact that he's losing a game by taking his ball and going home.

"McConnell has betrayed the trust of millions of voters who didn't like Obamacare and believed the Republicans would get rid of it as soon as they had the power to do so. Now, not only has McConnell failed to deliver but he's apparently ready to prop up Obamacare instead."

Once again, this is a great example of the real problem not only with health insurance reform but all of Washington, D.C. The hurdles of partisanship and ideology pale in comparison to political class cronyism and the pursuit of selfish interests. The result is not only the fact that a political party is failing to live up to its eight-year-long promise of repealing Obamacare. Another stinging result is that the chances of any real fix for a broken health coverage system just shrank a little bit more.

McConnell's actions look even more corrupt now that some of his fellow Republican Senators are floating health bill ideas that would clearly be more in line with what the GOP has been promising for years. Thursday, Senator Rand Paul pushed his idea to eliminate restrictions that make it hard or even ban companies and groups like churches and trade groups from forming their own association health plans. Earlier in the week, Senator Ted Cruz called for a simple repeal of the essential benefits rules across the board that would allow insurance companies to sell very cheap plans.

McConnell may just be bluffing about working with the Democrats, but the fact that he's even making the threat is telling enough. McConnell has betrayed the trust of millions of voters who didn't like Obamacare and believed the Republicans would get rid of it as soon as they had the power to do so. Now, not only has McConnell failed to deliver but he's apparently ready to prop up Obamacare instead.

And that's the final bad piece in this corrupt puzzle. Not only has McConnell betrayed conservative ideals and years of campaign promises, but he's damaging the whole democratic process in America.

The good news is that the Republicans and the American people do have workable and better health bill options to choose from. The bad news is they're not going to get them as long as Mitch McConnell has a position of power.

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

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.