Republicans now have a Republican House and a Republican Senate and a Republican president who is ready to sign their legislation. It is blatantly obvious to all Americans that the Republican House is in chaotic disarray, it is a house divided. President Donald Trump may know the ‘Art of the Deal’ but he certainly didn’t fully understand the party divisions in the House or the process. In his address to the nation immediately after knowing that the bill was pulled for lack of sufficient support, he admitted that, “We all learned a lot. We learned a lot about loyalty. We learned a lot about the vote-getting process.”
He knows now.
After the debacle of the American Health Care Act 0f 2017 and its collapse with a Republican majority, we no longer have to wonder if the Republicans, if they remain divided, can achieve any substantial legislation. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, is of course taking the brunt for the defeat of AHCA. Yes, gathering the votes is the responsibility of the Speaker but without cooperation from house Republican members, legislation will fail. A simple majority is needed to pass a bill, 218 votes.
First, we must understand the different groups in the house. There are several factions currently that make up the 435 members. The Democrats have 193 members and vote in lock step to their minority leader’s demands. They had no intention of voting for AHCA and destroying Obama’s legacy. Even though the Republicans have 237 with four vacancies as of March 1, 2017 doesn’t mean they are in unison as proved by the defeat of AHCA. Some members of the House are obstructionists and unbending. The largest Republican faction is the Republican Study Committee which is a Conservative group with about 160 members usually voting to support conservative Republican legislation and is chaired by Rep Mark Walker. The centrist Tuesday Group of about 50 members is co-chaired by Rep Charlie Dent. This group works across the aisle to pass legislation helping their constituency base.
Then there is the radical House Freedom Caucus chaired by an aggressive and innovative leader Rep Mark Meadows. This group consists of about 30 Libertarian leaning or Libertarians under the shield of Republicans. The Freedom Caucus is a force impacting the way legislation is not achieved in the house.
The ‘Reconciliation process’ for some senators seemed to be part of the problem in passing the bill. If the ‘Reconciliation process’ proved too difficult for the Republicans to agree on, that is House and Senate, how can they expect their constituents to digest the information. This situation only added to the confusion and anxiety to those that are struggling with their health care coverage. What the American people want is health care at affordable costs; they do not want to know or care about the ‘process’. What Americans want are results.
The AHCA was the largest legislative setback of the Trump administration to date because President Trump promised to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare during his campaign. The Freedom Caucus took the position to not support the AHCA even though they were granted changes to the bill. Their stance remained inflexible because they held to the premise that they wanted to keep the ‘promise’ of repealing the PPACA (Obamacare) to their constituents. They would worry about a replacement ‘later’. Republicans as a whole have had SEVEN years to come up with a plan worthy of passing legislation in the house. PPACA has seen about 60 bills pass to repeal the bill and every time Republicans have voted to send the bill to Obama to sign. How totally pathetic and hypocritical! How hard is it to vote to Repeal Obamacare knowing that not one of the Repeal bills was going to be signed by Obama?
Seven years is a long time to wait for deliverance from the burdens of PPACA and most Americans just moved on and adapted to their ‘new’ Obamacare life. Many Americans are still struggling to find affordable health care.
The Freedom Caucus in their fanaticism to fully repeal PPACA forgot one very important entity, the human element. Obama knew it was going to be difficult to wean millions of Americans from Obamacare (PPACA) or Medicaid. He knew that his PPACA would lead to socialized medicine. In fact, Senator Ted Cruz in an interview with the Dailey Caller in 2013 said on passing a Continuing Resolution in an attempt to defund Obamacare which failed:
“The only way to force passage is to condition the CR on defunding Obamacare. Otherwise, the so-called alternatives don’t stop the subsidies on January 1; and, if it’s correct that, once implemented, it will never be unwound (and no Republican has effectively refuted that premise), then not fighting on the CR is effectively saying we surrender and will allow Obamacare to become a permanent feature of our economy, hurting jobs and growth in perpetuity.” Senator Cruz was right. The devastation that Obamacare incurred on the American people is irreparable.
Obamacare became a monster ravaging everything in its path. It entangled all aspects of American life:
Increasing taxes to employers and individuals
Obamacare choked the insurance industry
Forced the insurance industry to insolvency, many states do not have or have only one provider. Tennessee has no insurance companies
High deductibles with little or no coverage
Expansion of Medicaid – approximately 70M
Relieving seniors of Medicare benefits
Employer based health retiree programs have been diminished or demolished
Funding health centers providing abortion
Small businesses closed
Jobs, job creation
Knowing all of this, why would the Freedom Caucus arbitrarily not consider the unintended consequences of a full repeal? While the AHCA was not a perfect bill, it could have been a working transition to accommodate the 40 Million Americans that were to lose health care coverage. The Democrats were never going to approve any bill repealing the PPACA.
The Republican bill, AHCA, contained language that included:
First major reform of Medicaid
Repeal individual mandates
Repeal employer mandates
Defund Planned Parenthood for one year
Freedom Caucus co-founder Rep Jim Jordon was on Fox News Sunday, March 26th, with Chris Wallace and stated that he wanted a ‘clean’ repeal of Obamacare. He did not seem to care that this would be pulling the rug from under millions of Americans and leaving them without any insurance coverage or that there would be no pregnancy or maternity care. In fact, it did not faze him that these women would be at risk and so would their unborn baby. Abortions would be on the rise since the cost for pregnancy and maternity care would be prohibited to low income women at $15,000.
Freedom Caucus asked and received:
Essential health care benefits removed (President approved and would be handed to the states)
No Pregnancy CareNo Maternity care
No New born care
No Mental health care
There would be no subsidies to help people to buy insurance
No extended Medicaid
They further wanted to remove people with preexisting conditions.
President Trump at first said that he would let Obamacare just “explode”....thankfully he has changed his mind but no time has been set for another vote. It’s only fair that the American people know who were against the bill and kept Obamacare alive and well. Freedom Caucus members and others including centrist members. Rep Raul Labrador of the HFC made a laughable comment on TV. He said that he was looking forward to working with Democrats to Repeal and Replace. Who really believes that any Democrat will vote to Repeal Obamacare?
Republicans in the House are going to have to find a way to defund Planned Parenthood because this is serious and not a laughing matter. President Trump received the support of the Evangelicals and Catholics and to these Christians defunding PP is a priority. PP slaughters one million unborn babies a year.
For now Obamacare, like Speaker Ryan said, is “the law of the land”. Remember the Supreme Court in 2012 found the PPACA to be constitutional.
It is sad that our Republicans in the house could not come together and solve one of the most critical issues facing American families. Obamacare and its complexities are so intertwined in our laws that it affects every aspect of America life. Knowing this, there should be room at the table for all Republican groups to work calmly and deliberately to achieve what is good for all Americans. Republicans won with the expectation that they could in fact work conscientiously so that Americans could receive affordable health care and be liberated from the edge of socialized medicine. Hopefully President Trump learned a valuable lesson that it takes time to dismantle such a monster as Obamacare. Pray for Unity – Pray for America – Pray for our elected officials – Pray for President Trump
Fight, Never Give Up!
4 questions with Ted Cruz on defunding Obamacare