Chaos in the GOP's world after health-care bill fiasco

This editorial appeared in The Anniston Star

After Friday's unceremonious end to the American Health Care Act on Capitol Hill, a single word sums up the current state of the Trump administration and the Republican Party: Chaos.

President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan abruptly pulled the bill from an afternoon vote because the dominant party in Washington couldn't cobble together enough votes within its own ranks to pass an Obamacare-killing bill they'd campaigned on for months, or longer.

It was a stunning legislative defeat for a president and a party that chanted "repeal and replace" during election rallies during 2016 and in Trump's first few months in the Oval Office. Trump himself had called Obamacare a "disaster" and sold his supporters on his promise to quickly eliminate President Barack Obama's signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

As soon as Friday's House vote was canceled, the wheels of blame began to spin.

Ryan admitted failure. "We're going to live with Obamacare for the foreseeable future," he said.

In a statement echoed by several House members, U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told The New York Times, "We have to do some soul-searching internally to determine whether or not we are even capable of functioning as a governing body."

And the president?

Trump wouldn't take ownership of the loss. He didn't blame Ryan, either -- at least not publicly. Whose fault was it that Republicans wouldn't vote for their bill? Democrats, the president said.

That's the alternate universe in which Team Trump exists. A fractured GOP isn't at fault. The Republican-written legislation that was criticized by moderate and far-right Republicans wasn't at fault. It was instead Democrats who infested the American Health Care Act's process with a lack of support and doubt and now, in the president's mind, are the sole owners of Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act is well-intentioned legislation that's hampered by its weaknesses. It needs serious repair, not replacement. That's one of Trump and Ryan's biggest mistakes in this fiasco -- instead of improving Obamacare and avoiding the disruption a repeal could cause, they had no choice but to stick to their ironclad campaign promise to kill it and start over. And they failed. Miserably.

The bill of goods on which Trump sold millions of Americans -- that he alone could fix the nation, that he alone had the answers, that he could successfully negotiate with a finicky Congress -- is proving to be a failure, too.