Usually, reading President Trump's tweets can be a bit jarring for a morning commute. However, Wednesday morning, Trump is right about Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and the last-ditch effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
I'm generally a Rand Paul guy. I frequently say that my ideal president would be Rand's policies with Marco Rubio's communication skills. I was one of the guys that wanted Rand to run for office before anyone knew him as anything other than Ron Paul's son. He's always been a more pragmatic version of his father, and the libertarian movement needed that.
But unfortunately, he may be taking a step back toward his dad. His latest stand on Obamacare repeal demonstrates exactly why libertarians can't have nice things and why so few have advanced in national politics. Absolutism clouds their ability to solve problems and to make substantive impacts on policy. Those who oppose the good and demand only utopia expose themselves as philosophers instead of leaders.
Many libertarians, apparently now including Rand, won't make deals and won't take partial victories even when it advances their principles. That's why they don't move up in local politics; they don't play well with others and negotiate.
As a Rand fan, nothing would be more disheartening than for him to be the reason Obamacare isn't repealed. Nothing would set back the libertarian movement more than for him to be the 51st vote against repealing and replacing Obamacare with something measurably more conservative and infinitely better for consumers.
As Graham-Cassidy gains momentum before the September 30 reconciliation deadline, it's clear this is the last chance for years to repeal Obamacare. Some fear deadlines lower standards for legislation, but in this instance, there's a lot to like — especially for someone like Rand. This isn't "Obamacare lite" as he kept repeating, or "another big government boondoggle" as he claimed over the weekend.
Graham-Cassidy isn't perfect, but uses conservative-libertarian principles to craft a compromise that can get 49 votes (and 50 if Rand backed it). Unlike early, and bad, versions of Obamacare replacements, there are no payments or "bailouts" for health insurance companies, and Medicaid expansion is phased out. The individual and employer mandates are eliminated, and the Obamacare ban on affordable catastrophic health plans will be lifted. Instead of the current money being taxed for Obamacare going to Washington, this bill sends the money to the states to figure out customized solutions to lower premiums in their unique states.
Rand would prefer to get rid of Obamacare taxes altogether and allow individuals to buy insurance in groups and across state lines. I would prefer that, too, as would most conservatives and libertarians — but those plans didn't get even close to passing the Senate.
The time for posturing for negotiating is over. Rand was right to fight for his vision and his bills early on, but now it's decision time.
And unfortunately, just like with elections, sometimes we are left with two imperfect choices. Because of the Sept. 30 deadline, no third choice exists. Will Rand allow Obamacare to stay and continue to raise premiums and offer few or no options to many Americans? Is Graham-Cassidy really worse than that for his constituents?
A libertarian shouldn't be responsible for keeping one of the biggest expansions of the federal government in history.
Let's hope he can still get on board with this bill. Maybe the authors can find a way to add Paul's idea to allow associations to purchase insurance in groups, while still not breaking the Senate's bizarre reconciliation rules. Maybe they can find a way to phase out more of the taxes. But at this point, one has to wonder if Rand would even accept those offers or if he will continue down the rabbit hole of absolutism and irrelevance.
Ron Meyer (@Ron4VA) is a Washington Examiner columnist and the editor of Red Alert Politics (a sister publication of the Washington Examiner). He's also a supervisor of Loudoun County, Va. (R-Broad Run).