This week the GOP leadership of U.S. House of Representatives unveiled their answer to Obamacare, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).1 By all accounts it is an Obamacare repeal-in-name-only, hence “RINOs Birth a RINO.” What is going on here and why?
When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was signed into law on March 23, 2010,2 it was sold by the Democrats as the solution to our nation’s health care crisis. Rising insurance premiums, increasing deductibles, more uninsured, and fewer provider choices would be reversed, or so the story was told. Truth be told, the authors of this bill saw it as a step on the path to single payer health care, full blown socialized medicine. Hence, it was no surprise that premiums and deductibles rose even faster, while the number of uninsured and providers fell.
For six years the Republicans promised they would repeal Obamacare if given the House and the Senate. Instead, once controlling both—and the White House—they delivered what Senator Rand Paul, son of former congressman Ron Paul, calls “ObamaCare Light.”3 Paul said that “It’s a Democrat idea they’re trying to dress up in Republican clothing.” He gave three reasons for this:
- There is a new entitlement in the bill: refundable tax credits.
- It preserves the so-called “Cadillac tax” on premium insurance policies.
- The federal mandate is exchanged for an insurance company mandate, meaning that people would now pay a penalty to their insurance company rather than to the federal government.
The Constitution grants Congress no power to regulate or interfere in any manner with the health care market, so “entitlements” are a usurped fiction of that body. Penalizing insurers or claimants for using comprehensive insurance plans creates economic distortions in the marketplace. Mandating that people buy insurance (or penalizing them if they don’t) is unlawful; it violates the supreme law of the land.
Fellow Senator Ted Cruz is demanding a full repeal of Obamacare. Cruz tweeted “When you spend 6 years promising, ‘If only we get elected, we’ll repeal Obamacare,’ you can’t renege.”4 Well, they chose to renege because they fear the moochers more than they fear the producers.5
Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee have repeatedly stated that the 2015 House repeal bill should be the “bare minimum” for repealing Obamacare.4 Unfortunately, President Trump has telegraphed that he is 100% behind the GOP plan, having tweeted on March 7: “I feel sure that my friend Rand Paul will come along with the new and great health care program because he knows Obamacare is a disaster!” He also tweeted “Don’t worry, getting rid of state lines, which will promote competition, will be in phase 2 & 3 of healthcare rollout.”6 Do we really want to wait for phases two and three, when those on the Obamacare dole will be an even larger number? Trump chose to substitute a stick for carrots on March 10 when he threatened to “primary” any Republic who votes against the AHCA.7 Where do conservative organizations like FreedomWorks come down on this plan?
Adam Brandom, with FreedomWorks, is advocating a full repeal of Obamacare. He wrote: “Whatever we do to Obamacare, this is the one last shot to put in patient-centered health care. This is worthy of political turmoil. This is worthy of losing a Senate seat. [These men] have a lot of political capital, and they have to spend some of it right now.”8 Procedurally, how should Congress go about repealing Obamacare?
While House Speaker Paul Ryan insists that the AHCA is the only way to repeal Obamacare because of Senate rule constraints, Rand Paul and other members of the Freedom Caucus point out that Congress’ 2015 bill, that was vetoed by President Obama, proved that Obamacare could be fully repealed.9 Trump would not veto that 2015 bill. Using reconciliation to excise Obamacare carries its own liabilities.
The AHCA is a budget reconciliation bill that has specific House and Senate procedural constraints, limited to federal financial impact. The Senate’s “Byrd Rule” stipulates that if a measure does not impact federal finances, it cannot be struck from the bill unless the waiver is passed with a 60-vote supermajority.9
If these GOP lawmakers would learn a lesson from the recent presidential election, they would understand that the silent deplorables will out-vote the moochers on election day, but they fear the moochers and the lobbyists more than their own constituents.
Just as in the wild, where rhinoceros give birth to rhinoceros, in politics RINOs give birth to RINOs. While it is difficult to tame those RINOs in Washington, Texans would have a fighting chance to lasso those in Austin, especially if they represented the independent nation of the Republic of Texas.
1 American Health Care Act, subtitled “Budget Reconciliation Legislative Recommendations Relating to Repeal and Replace of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” http://bit.ly/2mAsBiT or https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/4f82iy7d92u0c3a/AmericanHealthCareAct.pdf?dl=0
2 eHealthInsurance.com, “History and Timeline of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” 9/22/16, https://resources.ehealthinsurance.com/affordable-care-act/history-timeline-affordable-care-act-aca
3 “Obamacare Replacement Plan Released!,” “SooperMexican,” http://therightscoop.com/breaking-obamacare-replacement-plan-released, 3/6/17
4 “Ted Cruz Back To Fighting Fellow Republicans Over Obamacare,” Katie Leslie, http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2017/03/03/ted-cruz-back-fighting- fellow-republicans-obamacare, 3/3/17
6 President Trump Twitter Feed, https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump
7 “Trump Threatens GOP: Back Health Bill or Get Primaried,” David M. Drucker, 3/10/17, “Washington Examiner,” http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-threatens-gop-back-health-bill-or-get-primaried/article/2617074
8“Rand Paul Blasts House Leadership For Hiding Obamacare Bill, Then Gets Blocked From Seeing It,” “The Right Scoop,” 3/2/17, http://therightscoop.com/rand-paul-blasts-house-leadership-for-hiding-obamacare-bill-then-gets-blocked-from-seeing-it/
9 “Conservatives Dispute Ryan’s ‘Binary Choice’ on Obamacare,” Art Moore, 3/9/17, http://www.wnd.com/2017/03/conservatives-dispute-ryans-binary-choice-on-obamacare/
10 “Rand Paul Introduces His Own Obamacare Replacement Plan,” Robert Zerfing, 3/9/17, C.S.C. Media Group, http://www.cscmediagroupus.com/robert-zerfing/rand-paul-obamacare-replacement
11 “Cruz Works Behind Scenes to Change Obamacare Repeal Bill,” James Arkin, 3/10/17, Real Clear Politics, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/03/10/cruz_works_behind_scenes_to_change_obamacare_repeal_bill.html
12 “Republican Oppose Obamacare Lite. Or Worse,” Michael F. Cannon, 3/7/17, http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2017/03/07/republicans-propose-obamacare-lite-or-worse/