Poet and novelist Charles Bukowski once said, "If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start."
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and House Republican leaders could have learned from this pearl of wisdom. Unfortunately, they are trying to ram through the House a bill — the so-called American Health Care Act — that falls far short of their frequent and many campaign promises to repeal Obamacare and create free-market reforms that would lead to greater competition and choice, with lower costs. Those were campaign promises that, by the way, helped Republicans win the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and the White House in 2016.
In January 2016, after President Obama vetoed an Obamacare repeal bill that had overwhelming Republican support, Ryan made it clear that the baseline for repeal had been drawn. "We have shown now that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate," he declared. "So, next year, if we’re sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law."
Conservative activists — who have been fighting for years to repeal Obamacare and supporting conservative candidates who got elected on pledges to scrap the 2010 law — will accept nothing less than a bill that follows through on these promises. Just as important are Americans who have seen their premiums skyrocket because of Obamacare. They are looking for relief.
House Republicans now have that opportunity to produce a strong repeal of Obamacare and its onerous regulations, and institute free-market reforms. They shouldn’t let themselves be bound by narrow interpretations of Senate rules.