Repealing and replacing healthcare is hard, but one conservative member, Rep. Ron DeSantis says the central problem is that a few Republicans like the healthcare law they pretend to hate.
"The underlying problem has been that Republicans ran on repealing and replacing Obamacare for years and years," DeSantis, R-Fla., argued during a recent interview in the Washington Examiner newsroom. "But the real divide was that we didn't have a majority in either chamber that actually want to repeal the law."
"You have Republicans who run against Obamacare but actually like Obamacare."
After watching Republicans self-cannibalize over healthcare, it's difficult to disagree. The debate hasn't been about digging up the roots and cutting the branches of Obamacare, the debate has dealt with marginal reform of the law.
"I think it's bad policy and it's bad politics. It's not even the fact that it will hurt us yet," said DeSantis, who represents a district Trump carried by more than 10 points. "But you're just a total joke if you can't even follow through with your core promise."
And while DeSantis voted for House Speaker Paul Ryan's Obamacare overhaul, he describes it as "a scraped-together package of compromises." A member of the cantankerous House Freedom Caucus, DeSantis cheered the idea of clean repeal, deleting the healthcare bill entirely.
"That repeal-only bill would've made sense to do in January," DeSantis reminisced, "and then have Trump sign it on January 20."
But that counter-factual history simultaneously proved wishful thinking and proved the DeSantis thesis. Republican Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine vowed to oppose healthcare legislation that doesn't include a comprehensive replacement.
Seems like Republicans just aren't capable of doing hard things and that, sooner or later and whether or not they really try, for healthcare reform it'll be game over.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.