ALL IN! Crap, all in with a pair of sevens. But he had to do it. It had been so long since he had had a hand, any hand, that he was forced to go all in with a pair of sevens. He had been pushed around long enough. He remembered his last chance, the last time he had had a really good hand. Thought he had a winner. The first two cards – King and Queen of Hearts. He bet and his opponent called. Next the Jack and then the ten. Both hearts! He bet big. Call. And then came the ACE! But it was the ace of clubs and all he had was a high straight. He bet and his opponent raised. The warning bells went off in his head as he called. He had a straight, but his opponent had drawn a full house. Now he was all in with a pair of sevens. And his opponent looks like he may call…
It takes a certain amount of courage to put your money on the table and ask to be dealt into the game. Though some may always lose, no one always wins. So you better enjoy the game, revel in the risk, and be prepared to accept the outcome win or lose. And there is one more similarity between poker and politics. You must be prepared to bluff.
In March of 2010 the Democrats went all in. They didn’t have a great hand. This wasn’t the early 90’s when they thought that they had a winner. They didn’t have the National Single Payer plan that they really wanted. They had compromised with their fellow legislators from across the aisle to cobble together a plan that would garner bipartisan support. And they failed. They were all in and they were exposed and alone. On March 23, 2010 the Dems won with a pair of sevens and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was signed into law.
March 23rd wasn’t the end of the game, just the biggest tournament to date. The Republicans have been very busy since that loss. They had no respect for the gambler, President Obamacare, and hated to have been bested by such a weak hand. It took almost seven years, but here they are, back at the table. The Republicans had spent almost every waking hour since the defeat preparing for this day. A poker player needs a bankroll. The Republicans needed votes – a solid majority in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and a Republican in the White House. And on Friday, January 20, 2017 it will all come together.
For almost seven years the Republicans have told everyone who would listen that they were the better choice. “Bet on me”, they said to the American public. Their focus, the game, scheduled for 1/20/2017 was impressive. We all knew that if they were given the chance they would repeal and replace Obamacare. They just needed their bankroll. And now they’ve got it. There is only one problem.
We are about to see how Paul Ryan plays a bluff. He’s got the votes. But he doesn’t have the cards. There is no viable Republican alternative. Even Republican governors want/need to retain the expansion of Medicaid built into the law. Nobody wants to reinstate medical underwriting, exclude preexisting conditions, or kick kids off their parents’ policies. Everyone wants cake and ice cream for dessert, but no one wants to be forced to eat the liver and onions entrée.
The players are about to be seated. We’ve already taken a peek at the Republicans’ hand. Wonder what the Dem’s have? Wonder how they’ll play their cards? More importantly, who is going to tell all of them that this isn’t just a game?