President Trump has informed his Republican colleagues in the House that they have a serious problem. They need to vote for the current draft of the American Health Care Act or they will face repercussions in 2018. Congressmen appear to face a dilemma if they do not believe that this bill is best for their constituents. Should they risk their seats by opposing the bill? Do they vote with their conscience or with their caucus?
This appears to place them squarely between a rock and a hard place, or on the horns of a dilemma.
Fortunately, not all political decisions are really hard when properly framed. And this one is actually pretty easy. Regardless of what they might believe, many of these congressmen are now between ten rocks and a soft place. Avoid the ten rocks. Go for the soft place.
Indeed, President Trump is correct. Many congressmen who campaigned on the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare might lose their seats in 2018, and might even lose a contested primary, if they don’t vote to repeal. That’s probably true. That’s the hard place.
But more Republican Congressmen who vote for this bill will lose their seats. That’s not probably true, that’s certainly true. This bill hurts their poor and their elderly constituents, and it hurts constituents who are currently covered by expanded Medicaid. This is not just a rock; this is ten rocks.
So what is a Republican congressman supposed to do? The best thing would be to reframe the problem as posed by President Trump. These congressmen should create a third choice, vote against this bill and demand one that benefits their constituents. They should go for the unstated third choice.
So now we see that they were not balanced on the horns of a dilemma, but sitting on a single horn. All they need to do is to get off that horn.
How can members of Congress figure out when it is safe to pick this third choice? Talk to your governor. Talk to your constituents. See who is going to be hurt among your own poor voters, your elderly voters, and your voters who are now dependent upon expanded Medicaid. And then vote against this bill.
That’s not a rock, or ten rocks, or a hard place. It’s the soft place.