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Wall Street Journal Slams GOP Moderates for Evading Obamacare Repeal

The Wall Street Journal criticized Republican moderates in its lead editorial Thursday for their reluctance to support the latest version of the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

The Journal has spent the last several months blaming conservative Republicans for the impasse, so its shift toward criticizing moderates is noteworthy, and a sign of the changing nature of the legislative fight on Capitol Hill.

The Journal’s editors write that moderates have received almost everything they’ve wanted in the negotiations, except the preservation of the Medicaid expansion in its current form. It also acknowledges that conservatives have shown their seriousness by compromising on their most ambitious goals, and providing new policy ideas of their own:

The most important residual virtue of the McConnell rewrite, and the main reason it is still worth passing, is that it maintains the original Medicaid reform. …

Moderates intensely opposed this transformation, but structural changes are the only way to make the entitlement state even remotely affordable. The discipline will save $772 billion over 10 years.

The Senate bill has never been the “root and branch” repeal that some Republicans overpromised, but any legislation with a chance of passing must negotiate both political reality and health-care conditions that have developed over decades. The bill is now a pragmatic, modest compromise that tries to satisfy all camps.

Most Senate conservatives like Mr. Cruz are warming to the bill despite previous concerns about ObamaCare Lite, and we’ll support it too despite its watered-down tax cuts and reform. Moderates now have to decide if they can say the same, having extorted almost everything they asked for and then some.

The Journal concludes:

Moderates never objected to the repeal-and-replace agenda and surely benefitted from the slogan politically, yet some are still threatening to vote against even allowing a debate. If what they really want is ObamaCare, they should have said so earlier, though now at least they’ll be accountable for their true position.

The new version of the bill can be found here.