They still dont have the votes.
They still don't have the votes. BIGFISHDESIGN / GETTY

The Republicans' awful health care bill is dead for now—you know things are bad when you can't muster the support for a procedural vote!—so let's pause and take a quick look back on the presently thwarted attempt to keep America's sick grandmas from going to the doctor. Its rapid journey downwards—and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's misguided attempt to save it—looks something like this:

Trumpcare -> Repeal and Do Nothing -> "Let Obamacare Fail"

I was stressed out about this bill FOR SO MANY REASONS. And if you're a person who may ever get sick or have a weird rash that needs checking out, I bet you were too. Because the Young Invincibles might be something—comic book? boy band? this fall on the CW?—but it was a term coined by the insurance industry, not a reflection of reality, which for most of us includes doctor visits sometimes! Hoo boy!

ANYWAY. Here's where we are now: Donald Trump, the adult toddler who lives in the White House and can't compliment women without talking about their bodies like your creepiest drunk uncle, isn't proposing a new plan but instead discussing his intent to sabotage the American people's health care and somehow not be blamed for it?

Here's a snippet of the "president"'s incomprehensible quote:

"And I think we're probably in that position where we'll let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us."

Truly, it is an idea almost too stupid to even contemplate. But contemplate it we must, because we live under a regime that's made my most-used emoji the fucking eyeroll one. Vox points out the fact that actually presidents DO get blamed when bad things happen, and that many elements of the Affordable Care Act's implementation are actually working very well.

But it's true that Trump & Co. COULD do a lot to weaken health care access without passing legislation—we've already gotten hints at what that might look like. So far, it's taken the form of Trump appointing people to jobs their records suggest they'll sabotage—e.g., Health and Human Services' Tom Price, Medicaid's Seema Verma—and could have major ramifications for birth control access, the rights of transgender patients, and the care and keeping of Medicaid.

At this point, that might be the Republicans' only real option in their stubborn battle against people having insurance.

Mitch McConnell's backup plan—passing legislation that just repeals the ACA and doesn't replace it with anything—also looks doomed. Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, Shelley Moore Capito, and Susan Collins have all said they'd be "no" votes, and Senator Pat Roberts has apparently told NPR there are even more defectors among the Republican ranks than those three troublemakers. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins continue to be my favorite Republicans, and the only ones in the party with any legible integrity.

But the most interesting thing in all of this is a line from the person I ONCE considered my favorite Republican, John McCain (remember his maverick days before he fell into lockstep with the GOP's regressive, reactionary agenda? I MEAN I HARDLY DO BUT IT DID HAPPEN). Here's McCain's statement about the bill:


The governors he's referring to are the Republican governors of states that took part in the ACA's Medicaid expansion, who obviously don't want to be on the hook for their constituents losing newly-established coverage.

Why does that matter? Because it's worth remembering that the Affordable Care Act is a piece of legislation that was crafted through compromise (some might argue to a fault), and implemented with the participation of Republicans. In this increasingly polarized political climate, it can be difficult to remember that some level of compromise and consensus is required to get things done.

Politics isn't abstract. It has a significant impact on people's lives. And right now, the GOP can't seem to agree on whether it wants to make them better or worse. In this Upside Down America, I'm counting that as a win. Long may they squabble.