WASHINGTON — In addition to the Twitter war between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, another front has unfolded between Trump and a GOP senator who refuses to vote for the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace bill when it comes to the Senate floor next week.
“Rand Paul, or whoever votes against Hcare Bill, will forever (future political campaigns) be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare,'” Trump tweeted this morning.
“No one is more opposed to Obamacare than I am, and I’ve voted multiple times for repeal. The current bill isn’t repeal,” Paul retorted about an hour later. “I won’t vote for Obamacare Lite that keeps 90% of the taxes & spending just so some people can claim credit for something that didn’t happen.”
“Calling a bill that KEEPS most of Obamacare ‘repeal’ doesn’t make it true. That’s what the swamp does. I won’t be bribed or bullied,” Paul added.
Paul told CNN on Wednesday that he sees himself as “a very positive force, and actually positively working with the president on different ideas.”
“I’m just not with him on Graham/Cassidy because Graham/Cassidy keeps most of the Obamacare spending and it sort of reshuffles it. So instead of Obamacare funding going to California, it gets reshuffled to Republican states. And so I see it really more as sort of petty partisanship,” the senator explained. “Hey, let’s reshuffle the deck and give the money to the Republican states but let’s keep the Obamacare spending. My concern is the debt. We have a $700 billion debt. How are we going to pay for all this?”
“We think the administration is going to, in the next week or two, issue a ruling saying individuals are going to be able to buy across state lines. We think they can do it without a newt bill or legislation from Congress,” Paul added. “Here’s the thing. My proposal I’m working with on the president will cost zero dollars. The Cassidy/Graham bill is going to spend a trillion dollars. It keeps the Obamacare spending but just reshuffles who gets it. That is not what I promised voters. I promised repeal. I didn’t promise I would keep most of it and reshuffle who gets the proceeds.”
Paul argued that his plan to allow people to buy insurance across state lines and insurance through trade groups is “offering freedom of choice,” while “Cassidy and Graham are offering just a big-government variation of Obamacare that sticks it to the Democrat states and takes the money and gives it to Republican states but really keeps most of the Obamacare spending. And that’s not something I’m for.”
Paul also argued that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) isn’t correctly whipping votes when he says that the lower chamber could quickly pass Graham-Cassidy without change once the upper chamber sends down the bill.
“I would have him ask everybody in California, every Republican, there are 14 Republican Congressmen, are they happy with the fact that the new formula will take $27 billion from California? Look, there’s a lot of Republican Congressmen in New York and California, about 25 of them. They’re in very competitive districts. Are they willing to go home and say I just voted for a bill that will take billions of dollars from California and New York and give it to Mississippi?” he said. “It’s a formula fight. It’s a food fight over money. We’re going to reshuffle the deck but it is not a principled repeal of Obamacare.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said at a news conference this week that Republicans who believe in federalism will like his bill.
“We’ve come upon an idea that is uniquely Republican, but over time has proved to work in other areas like welfare reform,” Graham said. “So I would hate to be the Democrat that voted against more money for my state and more power, and keep the status quo. So if you’re a Democrat, let’s say in Missouri, you’re going to get far more money under this proposal than Obamacare, and your state would have more control over the money. To reject that money and that control means you believe that somebody in Washington cares more about people in Missouri than people in Missouri. You believe it’s OK to help California, New York, Maryland and Massachusetts more than Missouri. That’s just what a Democrat would have to face if they voted no.”
“If you’re a Republican and you vote against federalism, you’ve got to explain to people back home why Washington knows better. And almost every state except the four I’ve described, do very well under this new approach to taking the money out of Washington. So I think the idea is more powerful. I think the substance is much more fair.”