“This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare. This is the moment. It really comes down to a binary choice.” – Paul Ryan this week, speaking on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), his proposal to replace Obamacare.

“RINO” – Republican In Name Only.

This is the RINO blueprint: Campaign in a conservative district spouting all the normal rhetoric. In 2016, repealing Obamacare topped the charts of conservative rallying cries. Once election is secured, move to the middle to avoid becoming a focal point for the press and the screaming protestors in the streets. Shift the target while in Washington to the real conservatives who are foolish enough to keep their campaign promises – let them take the heat until the next election cycle when, since nothing was accomplished in the meantime anyway, you can claim that you’ve been fighting the good fight all along. If it wasn’t for those darn Democrats, by golly, we’d get there. Hell, we’d be there already.

Careers were made on this. John Boehner. John McCain. “Establishment Bob” Latta. Now Ryan is making them all look like rank amateurs. This little deal, the exclusion of conservatives with a behind closed doors drafting of the AHCA and the presentation of it to the public as the only possible solution, this takes some kind of cake. But if you didn’t see this coming the day after Donald Trump’s surprise election last November, well, you just don’t know RINOs.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column arguing that the Republicans would be wise to repeal Obamacare without even trying to replace it yet. A few days after the column, Ryan presented the AHCA and conservatives from Rand Paul to Jim Jordan started saying that we should flat out repeal Obamacare without replacing it yet. I’m well read in Washington, I hear.

It wasn’t all that prescient. I was only proposing what Republicans had guaranteed they would do once elected. House Republicans had previously passed legislation six times repealing Obamacare. Jordan re-introduced one such bill last week and the RINOs fled from it, conjuring the image of Cool Hand Luke laying beaten on the ground reaching his hand in the air for help saying, “Where are you now?”

Ryan says that outright repeal is not possible. He is lying. Obamacare itself was passed through the budget reconciliation process that only requires a majority vote in the Senate instead of the 60 votes to avoid a filibuster. It is alleged that four of the 52 Republican Senators will defect, however, if the repeal is passed without a gradual phase out for the Medicaid expansion. These alleged defectors include our very own Rob Portman, he who abandoned the Republican presidential candidate last fall and, prior to that, decided that the meaning of the Constitution had changed when he found out his son was gay.

Instead of pressuring the defectors to come on board for repeal, a true RINO would coddle the defectors, who are only trending toward the middle after all, and pressure the conservatives to abandon their principles. True to form, Ryan turned on Jordan and the gang, refusing to challenge the Vichy Senators.

Spoiler alert: In the end, Medicaid expansion is going to be phased out anyway if it is touched at all. Without losing anything, one could appease the Senate Four by agreeing to a phase out with an otherwise absolute repeal. Nope, says Ryan, the choice is binary.

And it isn’t that Ryan’s AHCA won’t dramatically improve the health care system. It will. But it will also fail. More slowly than Obamacare, but it will fail for two reasons. First, it doesn’t address tort reform or any other measures that would get costs under control. The problem with the health care system isn’t that insurance is unaffordable, it is that the healthcare which it covers is unaffordable.

The second reason the ACHA will fail is that it forces insurers to cover pre-existing conditions without a mandate to buy insurance. You can’t have one without the other. Such a system encourages people to not have insurance until after discovering a condition that necessitates expensive care. Of those who choose to go without insurance, only those that incur such a condition would ever enter the insurance pools, driving the costs sky-high for everyone else. This was one of the many problems of Obamacare, which had a mandate but did not enforce it.

Further, if the first draft of the ACHA is passed, there will be no substantive amendments in a second and third phase as Ryan promises. Conservatives understand this. It will take all the political capital available just to get the first phase done and the media bombardment will begin the next day.

Worst of all is that if the ACHA goes into effect, Republicans will own the health care mess. And still a colossal mess it will be. Through transitive association, conservative policies will own the mess, even though conservative policies had little to do with it.

In a clean repeal, or even in a repeal that includes a phase out for Medicaid, Democrats would be forced to negotiate and co-own the legislation. The RINOs cry that there would never be a Democrat vote for a Republican health care plan.

Oh yeah? What happens if 24 million people were going to lose Medicaid coverage but a conservative offered a proposal that would save this coverage but with a catch – we’re going to need tort reform in exchange. Suddenly, you have a bi-partisan bill in which everyone is vested.

This is how legislation used to work before the advent of the RINO, who occupies the middle of every argument before a real debate or negotiation can happen. Democrats are going to skate on what they did to the health care system. By next fall, they are going to be campaigning on a return to the halcyon days of Obamacare. And the RINOs will be following their blueprint all over again.