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Trump, McConnell Blaming Each Other for Failing to Kill Obamacare. Who’s Right?

August 9, 2017, 11:20 PM UTC

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are pointing fingers at each other for the failure to repeal Obamacare. But who’s really responsible for the legislative flame out?

It’s complicated.

Following a dramatic late night vote last month to kill the Senate GOP’s latest health care bill, a frustrated McConnell—who has made repealing Obamacare one of his biggest political priorities—said that Trump has been pinning his hopes too high. During an event in his home state of Kentucky on Tuesday, McConnell asserted that the president had “excessive expectations” about Congress’ ability to deliver on Trump’s agenda including health care. There are “too many artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the legislature, which may have not been understood,” McConnell said.

Trump and one of his main aides, Dan Scavino, rebutted that idea on Wednesday through Twitter.

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The dueling narratives about why the Obamacare repeal died (at least for now) despite harsh political rhetoric about the law over the past seven years highlight the fractures in the Republican Party. In that sense, one may argue that Trump’s tweet is on-point. United GOP political opposition to the concept of “Obamacare” and dozens of symbolic Congressional votes to repeal the law over nearly a decade have yet to amount to a true overhaul of the Affordable Care Act.

For one, Republicans have never really reached a consensus about upending health care. That reality is highlighted by the multiple permutations of GOP moderates and conservatives who have scuttled Trumpcare’s various versions over the past few months, either because of what moderates considered excessive cuts to Medicaid and Obamacare’s consumer protections or what conservatives considered the creation of Obamacare Lite. Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner (another ACA critic) has predicted that Obamacare repeal would never become reality because the legislation has been in place for too long and because of ideological differences within the GOP.

But the Trump administration hasn’t followed through on its promise to present a health care plan, either. President Trump claimed, on multiple occasions throughout the health care debate, that the White House would deliver an Obamacare replacement proposal that could ostensibly serve as a legislative template for Congress. The plan, which Trump implied would provide “terrific” health care at lower costs, has yet to materialize.

That’s a departure from the Affordable Care Act debate, wherein former President Obama presented marching orders to a Democratic Congress.

It’s unclear what the next steps will be when it comes to Obamacare. Bipartisan groups of lawmakers and policy experts have been crafting proposals to shore up the law’s weak individual insurance markets. But the topsy-turvy regulatory ride may have already hobbled businesses by creating uncertainty that insurers loathe.