“Why are the Senate Republicans persisting in this desperate attempt at legislative alchemy?” This opinion from Roll Call’s Walter Shapiro both asks and answers this question.

Republicans violating the ‘first, do no harm’ principle

The single number that Senate Republicans should dwell on before they vote next week on health care will not bear the imprimatur of the Congressional Budget Office. Rather the most relevant statistic comes courtesy of the Gallup poll: Democrats hold a 19-point edge (55 percent to 36 percent) as the party most trusted to handle health care.

With a majority of voters in many polls now also approving of the Affordable Care Act, the politically prudent move for Mitch McConnell would have been to develop a sudden case of amnesia about the expression “repeal and replace.” The Senate majority leader, if pressed, could always claim that the Trump family’s memory lapses about Russian ties were contagious.

Instead, McConnell has taken on the role of drum major leading the Republican march of folly. All the legislative tinkering in the world will not save the GOP from being saddled with an unpopular bill that will haunt Republican incumbents in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

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