“What went wrong?” poses an erroneous query about the American Health Care Act. The question is not why it failed, but why anyone thought it might succeed. Irrespective of what one thinks of the bill’s policy particulars—whether the bill represents a positive, coherent governing document and vision for the health care system—this thinking demonstrates that Republicans have to re-learn not just how to govern, but also how to legislate. As a policy matter, Obamacare imposed a more sweeping scope on the nation’s health care system. But the tactics used to “sell” AHCA—“We’re doing this now, and in this way. Get on board, or get out of the way”—were far more brutal, and resulted in a brutal outcome, an outcome easily predicted, but the one its authors did not intend.
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