Mitch McConnell did not miscalculate.
I mean, he probably has miscalculted on something in his life, but when it comes to this Healthcare legislation he’s right on track. So WaPo Daily 202’s proclamation that he did miscalculate is doubtful.
He has two big factions in his party. Those in the hardcore conservative block and those moderates. He knows this going in. Who is going to give? Well, if the bill isn’t Hard Core Conservative dream then those who vote for it risk Primary challengers in heavily gerrymandered districts and conservative-leaning states. Those could get crushed by being painted as a moderate in the “Repeal” Healthcare process.
On the other side, the moderates are already in congressional districts that have some moderating force of voters that allows for more pragmatic approaches but could still heavily punish them if they pass a “harsh” or “uncaring” bill. Senators have to be especially wary of losing in General Elections where Independent voters can swing things.
The difference in attack methods (based on the concerns of different voter sets) is important to understanding why this strategy seems excellent.
I say strategy because McConnell chose secrecy. This seems to indicate some serious forethought. Developing the bill in secret is imperative to the goal: Get a bill that most all of the hardcore conservatives want. Give them that dream! (And let someone else crush it)
But you don’t want pressure moderating the process — so it must be in secret — because moderating changes might make the bill unpalatable to the hardcore conservative forces that you must attempt to appease first.
Then roll the bill out, endure the licks and criticism from the public based on a terrible CBO score and being cruel and whatever … and bill flop.
Then you turn to those hardcore conservatives and say this: We tried your way, now what?!
[or the longer version: Well, I’m sorry boys but we can’t do it. We can’t get this through. You’re going to have to negotiate with the moderates or (and he really said this) we’ll end up negotiating with the Democrats. Would you rather go back to your districts and tell them you had nothing? You couldn’t get any bill done because you couldn’t get enough votes for your bill and weren’t willing to negotiate or that you got the best deal you could?]
And that’s it.
Right there you can pull the bill into more moderate waters— which will instantly diminish the criticism — to gain the votes you need.
Two birds. One stone.
This is kinda brilliant politics.
Congress leaves on their recess knowing that the Hard Core Conservative dream is dead. They’ll have time to go talk to their supporters and give them the line, “We can’t do it… so what can we negotiate on?”
And thus the process of negotiating a more moderate bill will begin. There will be no, “We could have got a better deal,” because they’ve already tried and failed.
No one will remember the weeks of secrecy (until the other side does something in secret) and only the law will remain. A law that better not cut millions of people out of the healthcare system because even the ditzy dems should be able to take advantage of that in midterms.
Really… it seems like they’re on track.