Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A frustrating Republican Congress that won't repeal Obamacare

So, how 'bout that Senate Obamacare Repeal bill?
CR: After weeks of closed-door congressional cat herding, Senate leadership’s, super-duper top-secret Obamacare bill is going to make its grand debut this Thursday morning, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Tuesday.
Making the case that forthcoming legislative efforts will be “transparent as could be” and blaming Democrats for his party’s secrecy, McConnell also said Tuesday that senators will have “plenty of time” to read the bill before a long-anticipated vote on the measure which could come as early as next week.
That piece goes on to discuss how Sen. Mike Lee has been frustrated with how the details of the measure have been thus far kept under lock and key...
“I haven’t seen [the bill] yet, either,” Lee says in the post, “even though I’ve been a member of this working group among Senate Republicans, assigned to help narrow some of the focus of this.”

“Even though we thought we were going to be in charge of writing a bill in this working group, it’s not being written by us,” the senator continued. “It’s apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership in the Senate.”

“So, if you’re frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process, I share your frustration,” Lee said. “The American people need and deserve to be able to see legislation as it moves through the Senate.”
Related links: Senator turns to God and the Constitution for guidance
Sen. Mike Lee: Key Founding Fathers are being erased from U.S. history books
Book excerpt: Sen. Mike Lee's 'Written Out of History'
Lee on Russia-Trump probe: ‘Wrap this thing up and it’s time to move on’

Rest assured, he's not alone. So then, why the secrecy? And what's been the hold up? Why is the GOP struggling so much to repeal Obamacare?
WE:It's almost July and the Republican Party has yet to repeal Obamacare due to divisions within its own ranks. Everything that we thought we knew about the GOP suggests that this should not be the case.

What explains this sudden change in the policy views of Republicans? One explanation is that party affiliation is not as important as previously thought in explaining member behavior once in office. But far from suggesting that parties don't matter, the GOP's present struggles demonstrate that parties matter in a different way. Obamacare's fate ultimately depends on how Republicans view their party.

Suggesting that opposition to Obamacare is an important part of the GOP's political identity would be an understatement. Calls to repeal the law have featured prominently in the party's platform since 2010. Republican candidates at every level have campaigned on an unambiguous repeal message. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2013, then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declared, "Obamacare should be repealed root and branch."

And after finally gaining control of Congress for the first time since Obamacare passed, Republicans turned to a special process known as reconciliation to circumvent a Democratic filibuster in the Senate and repeal the law's major provisions. While President Barack Obama vetoed that measure in early 2016, Trump's victory in the presidential election later that year restored Republican hopes that their seven-year crusade against the law would finally end in victory.

Looking back, such optimism appears to have been unfounded. Five months have passed since Trump's inauguration and Obamacare is still the law of the land. Republican hopes for a quick victory have given way to the realization that progress on this front is going to be a long, hard slog. The GOP's "repeal" legislation, the American Health Care Act, barely passed the House on its second attempt. And Republicans are struggling to pass a watered-down version of the measure in the Senate.
In other words, while a policy-centric view of the party suggests that their majority should be able to easily repeal Obamacare, the candidate-centric view suggests that they aren't interested in detailed policy work for its own sake or on behalf of their constituent's interests; so instead of winning elections to formulate policies, they formulate policies to win elections. Broken down even further, they care more about whether they're jeopardizing their future electoral success over crafting policies that unravel the Leviathan and maximize liberty for the American people.

And this is how Washington functions, or doesn't, when we send the same unprincipled people back time and time again, particularly in leadership positions, expecting them to act in our best interest. So is it time for the handful of conservatives on Capitol Hill to jump ship from this phony Obamacare 'repeal'?
CR: Some of us tried very hard. Some of us have tried to repeal Obamacare and repeal and replace the GOP politicians who had no intentions of fulfilling their promises for six years. But they won.

It’s very clear that Senate Republicans and the president have no understanding of what Obamacare actually is and isn’t and that they have no intention of repealing it. No good will come out of conservatives putting their name on an unpopular bill that “fixes” Obamacare under the guise of repealing it. Whatever the intentions until now, it is abundantly clear that for individual conservatives, such as Ted Cruz and Mark Meadows, working in good faith to salvage a modicum of Obamacare repeal, we have now reached the point of no return. We stand at the moment when Moses told the congregation, “Please get away from the tents of these wicked men, and do not touch anything of theirs, lest you perish because of all their sins” (Numbers 17:26).

Right after Republicans won the election, we laid out a strategy for immediately repealing Obamacare with a transition period, so that the default position would always be the repeal of Obamacare and so that consumers would get a sense of what premiums would look like after the leviathan was slain. We also proposed a 20-point blueprint for free market health care reforms to be subsequently pursued once Obamacare was repealed.

Yet from day one, Republicans refused to repeal Obamacare, adopted the messaging and talking points of Obamacare under the guise of repealing it, and therefore made the law more popular than ever despite it failing before our very eyes. The bill that came out of the House was already a dismal failure and barely repealed the core elements of Obamacare – the regulations, subsidies, and Medicaid expansion – but some conservatives, in a view I didn’t share, felt that it was the only way to get the ball moving, in hopes that the legislation would improve in the Senate.

Throughout the process, the only leadership the president showed was his strong-arming of conservatives who actually wanted to fulfill the campaign promise and at least substantially repeal the law.

Now that the bill has come to the Senate, senators have taken an excrement sandwich and turned it into maggot-covered vomit. After all, Senate Republicans make House Republicans look like the Founders. While the text is still behind closed doors, the contours of the bill were set a long time ago. Legislators are taking each element of the bill – regulations, Medicaid expansion, subsidies, and mandates – and making them more liberal. Now, they might even keep some of the taxes (the only component they consistently opposed) in order to pay for the other elements. They have dropped any pretense of repealing Obamacare and are all about “fixing” it with even more subsidies and just converting the mandates to back-door requirements to purchase health insurance.

Until now, I was wondering where the president has been. Why was he not giving the Senate RINOs the same Twitter treatment for obstructing the House bill as he did the House Freedom Caucus? Now, according to an AP report of a private conversation the president had with some of those very RINOS, it’s clear that Trump agrees with the RINOs. At the same time he says Obamacare is a disaster and must be repealed, he believes that even the House version, which barely repeals the law, is “too mean.” Evidently, we need even more government control over health care … and that is exactly what we are getting with the Senate bill.
Conservatives have an important decision to make, specifically those who are supposedly a part of this crafting panel. Either they box in their conservative colleagues by supporting an unpopular bill that makes Obamacare great again, or they jump ship and land on their own two feet. Either way, Obamacare is not being repealed, so why get tainted by something they no longer believe in? Why make it harder for other colleagues to oppose this nonsense? After all, what are conservatives getting in return? Appears as only lip service, broken promises and abandoned principle, and that's just not worth it.

Related links: McCain says he’s NOT happy with how Senate is handling Obamacare replacement
McConnell says the Senate will begin revealing their Obamacare replacement bill Thursday
Forget the CBO & AHCA. Conservatives need a NEW bill

ADDENDUM: Sen. Ted Cruz weighed in this evening, telling Levin he is cautiously optimistic about the GOP's Obamacare replacement...

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