President’s Message – April 2017
President Trump’s first attempt to keep a campaign promise – to repeal and replace the ACA – went up in flames like Chicago in 1871 and the House Freedom Caucus was Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.
I wrote this in January about the opening of the state legislative session, but it rings equally true for our D.C. Congressional efforts:
“Not every Republican in the House or the Senate will see eye-to-eye on every issue – it’s the nature of a representative democracy………In my experience, good outcomes rarely derive from lockstep actions but rather are built on the foundation of collaboration, compromise, and reciprocity; none of which should be confused with surrendering your principles. Also required? An unyielding dedication to doing what is right. Honesty partnered with grace isn’t always easy, but it’s a worthy goal.”
I wish that I could say that the Freedom Caucus stood its ground on principle, but that seems hardly possible given that the GOP decided that the best process to “repeal and replace” was reconciliation, which is a legislative process that is used to consider budget bills, subject to only limited Senate debate and, most importantly, is filibuster-proof requiring only 51 votes to pass.
The downside to using reconciliation is that such bills are subject to rules and if a parliamentary point of order is raised and sustained the item is completely struck from the bill. Total repeal of the ACA simply would not have been possible using reconciliation and the Caucus members, given their experience, surely understood that.
Replacement? Couldn’t possibly happen using reconciliation. Do all Republicans need to work together to end Obamacare ? Do cows eat cud?
Clearly, House leadership and the President decided that it would be better to take bites at the apple and move quickly on some of the most ludicrous parts of ACA that are killing Americans and employers every single day: spiraling premiums and co-pays, ridiculous taxes and shrinking benefits. Then, continue to come back and peel the onion, layer by layer, until ACA was nothing but a smoldering pile of ashes. It wouldn’t have taken long.
I did not have access to read the bill, so I cannot tell you if it was clover or a cow patty. What I can say is that it did contain plenty of important cost savings which were clearly doused:
- 2 trillion dollars worth of cuts in Federal spending
- Close to 1 trillion dollars in tax cuts
- Now we will have another year, at least, of federal tax support for Planned Parenthood
- We will have the continuation of Medicare “block grants”
The Caucus flatly refused to support any bill that didn’t include total and instantaneous annihilation of the ACA even though it was obvious that some of the things they wanted stood a high probability of being killed by a point of order.
In many ways I have admired the Freedom Caucus, but in this instance they had a chance to be heroes for America and put an end to the debacle known as Obamacare; instead they put their own agenda ahead of what we need and want. By remaining entrenched in spite of concessions from Speaker Ryan and the President they and all Americans got nothing except guaranteed cost increases, benefit decreases, and out of control federal deficits. Some may admire their steadfastness, but let me ask you this: what did Americans get for their “principled stand”? I can tell you: a ripe, steaming pile of manure that threatens to drown our nation.
The House Freedom Caucus didn’t win. America lost.
“…….good outcomes rarely derive from lockstep actions but rather are built on the foundation of collaboration, compromise, and reciprocity; none of which should be confused with surrendering your principles……”
I beg of our Republican Congressional members…..heed my words. Please. Work together and design a health insurance system that makes sense, and do it now. If you went to D.C. to serve our country, do it now. Americans are counting on you…….put Obamacare out to pasture once and for all.