Lost in all the shouting over the possible “repeal” of Obamacare and its stealth replacement by a Republican version midwifed in the dark by speaker-of-the-House-for-now Paul Ryan is the only thing that matters: if the GOP is seen to have welshed on its solemn promise to clean-repeal, it will pay with a historic wipeout in the polls next year. And two years after that. And two years after that. If Donald Trump wants to be a two-term president (or, given the level of hostility on the Left, which has been agitating for impeachment since Jan. 21, even a one-term president), he needs to recognize that reality. Because while the elephant may forget, its voting base surely won’t.
The successful Republican takeback of the House, Senate and White House was in large part predicated on opposition to the Democrats’ unconstitutional federal power grab via Obamacare. Forget “health care” or even “insurance.” Obamacare was about neither of those things, but rather used them as a pretext to establish a new constitutional principle that the federal government, in collusion with the private sector, could force you at IRS gunpoint to purchase a product.
This, in case you haven’t noticed, is the very definition of fascism, and it should have been stopped in the Supreme Court, but instead the spineless chief justice, John Roberts, spontaneously rewrote the law to turn the individual mandate into a “tax,” and here we are.
It took President Barack Obama more than a year from his inauguration to get the Affordable Care Act passed by the skin of its teeth — despite enjoying massive Congressional majorities. And now, after early reactions to the GOP’s replacement plan, his successor and the Republican-controlled Congress are learning why reforming the U.S. health system is such a Sisyphean endeavor.
After months (well, technically, closer to a decade) of wait for an official Republican plan to replace Obamacare, the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees unleashed legislation dubbed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) late Monday that would nix the existing health law’s unpopular mandate to buy insurance and pare back its far more popular expansion of Medicaid for the working poor, among other provisions.
But major policy shifts are all about tradeoffs. And in an attempt to simultaneously preserve some Obamacare-era protections for the 20 million-plus Americans covered under the law, while scrapping other provisions despised by a conservative Republican base, the House leadership appears to have galvanized just about everyone other than the White House against the plan.
There you have it. The Gruber-Pelosi-Reid-Obama Patient Deflection and Unaffordable Care Act was littered with landmines, which Ryan & Co. are now trying to negotiate their way through, instead of just nuking the whole thing from orbit and restoring the status quo, come what may. To do otherwise is pure political cowardice.
Trying to explain to Americans that the expansion of Medicaid (not Medicare, but probably not one recipient in a million could explain the difference) under Obamacare was simply a welfare program, not “insurance” or “health care,” is a fool’s errand at this point. The Democrats are counting on the ignorance of the American voter, just as they did when they passed Obamacare in the first place.
As David Harsanyi has noted, the GOP already has a solution at hand; in fact, they already passed it a year ago:
[The] “Defund Obamacare Act” has a lot going for it. For one thing, it’s already been written and negotiated. Republican leadership supported the bill. The free-marketers voted for it. Thankfully, it also met with the endorsement of four moderate senators who recently sent a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell with concerns over rollbacks of Medicaid expansion. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Cory Gardner of Colorado all supported the bill — with Gardner and Portman co-sponsoring it.
Obviously, bills can be tweaked to incorporate new ideas or fix old ones, but it’s not as if this is a fleeting policy debate. The GOP’s ability to grab hundreds of seats on every level of government was predicated on the promises found in the “Defund Obamacare Act.” So unless Republicans were contemptuous frauds who voted for positions they didn’t truly believe in (sometimes more than 50 times), what case do they have against reintroducing a bill that is fundamentally the same?
Whatever the case, it’s not even worth attempting to dismantle a massive law like Obamacare if the goal is to make everyone happy. It will be disruptive. Democrats offered fantastical notions about the future when pushing their bill, and it backfired. There will be tradeoffs, and some Americans will lose their insurance.
So bite the bullet, and repeal the whole damn thing, Mr. Speaker. Don’t whine to us about how difficult it is, Republicans — you’ve had six-plus years to think about this. Just do it.
If you don’t, you’ll all be back at those Kiwanis and Rotary club meetings you’ve been missing during your brief sojourn in Washington, and talking about how you used to be big shots.