Yesterday’s post resulted in a firestorm of comments. Most (well, nearly all) were negative.
It was not possible to respond to all the comments (I venture that yesterday’s comments were approximately a 600% increase of the usual banter my blog receives). But one thing is certain. The issue of Obamacare is very important to Republicans. I will attempt today to respectfully respond to the bulk of the comments.
The two most common sentences that have appeared in my now more than 2000 posts are: “Big government is bad government. It’s axiomatic.” I am no fan of government intrusion into our lives (plus I’m a physician, so I definitely dislike government intrusion into my professional life). But those of you who opined that “government has no place in healthcare,” while you have an excellent point, must then be prepared to remove Medicare. There are 53 million Americans receiving Medicare, a federal “intrusion” into healthcare that has been around since 1965. Are you prepared to get rid of it? If you say you want “the government out of healthcare” then that must be your position. If you are not prepared to do that then you must COMPROMISE in order to “get government out of healthcare” except for Medicare. (Also, Medicare is here to stay regardless of who is in power and how big their majority is – at least until it goes broke.)
I became a Republican because of Ronald Reagan. Many Americans of my age also left the Democrat Party for the same reason. Here is what Reagan recommended when he was roundly criticized for compromising on his famous tax bill. “I have always figured that a half a loaf is better than none, and I know that in the democratic process you’re not going to always get everything you want.” I still consider that sound advice.
No matter all the arguments about “start over,” “we don’t need to rush”… tomorrow and for the foreseeable future Obamacare is the law of the land. Deny it if you will, but that is an immutable fact. If you want to change that fact you will need 216 votes in the House of Representatives and 51 votes in the Senate. If you want to go the route of “end the process of reconciliation” you will need 60 votes in the Senate.
Let’s do a vote count. There are 237 Republicans in the House of Representatives. Among them are 36 members of the Freedom Caucus (FC). That means that 201 RINOs were unable to convince 36 FC members to compromise. But you are somehow convinced that the 36/237 = 15% FC members will be able to convince all those RINOs to compromise with them. But, of course, the FC members don’t want to compromise at all – that wouldn’t be what a real Republican would do.
Many commented that the Freedom Caucus wasn’t “to blame.” It is difficult to argue that the Freedom Caucus is not responsible for the outcome of the “vote” on the American Health Care Act. They immediately bragged that they were the reason for the bill’s failure. Rep. Mo Brooks, a member of the defiant Caucus, immediately ran to the microphones after the final attempt to reach compromise was abandoned. He was pleased with the power his caucus had exhibited. “I would hope that the Freedom Caucus would get credit,” Brooks said. OK. I’m giving the FC credit. But many who commented negatively on yesterday’s post didn’t seem to want that particular “credit.”
Nope. “It’s still the Democrats” said many. Nope. “It’s those RINOs who promised us repeal but didn’t give it to us,” said many more. Why not “just send the repeal legislation that was already voted upon to Trump’s desk,” was another common refrain.
The House has actually voted to repeal Obamacare in its entirety six times (yes, the Democrats say “50 times (jerks),” but it was actually only six times.) But that was when Republicans were playing “pretend politics.” Those were easy and meaningless votes because Obama was sitting in the Oval Office with his feet up on the Resolute Desk. The “repeal” would be vetoed and there weren’t ever going to be enough votes to override his veto. Their vote meant nothing and would never come back to bite them. But that is very different from “real politics.” Full repeal would probably garner fewer than 40 votes today. That leaves you 176 votes short. As well, I seriously doubt that even Donald Trump would have the temerity to sign a full repeal without some follow on legislation. The repercussions would be deafening.
Then there is the “let’s get it right” group. I certainly agree that we should “get it right.” Obamacare is definitively and indisputably “wrong.” The House of Representatives was proposing a bill that would largely dismantle Obamacare (you may call it “Obamacare lite,” but the AHCA would, indeed, have largely dismantled this entitlement – the first real entitlement change EVER). Let’s say they didn’t get it exactly “right.” Republicans would still be in control of Congress and could have improved it with time (after all, Congress is not about to stop legislating), but Obamacare would have been GONE. Further legislative efforts could have improved the American Health Care Act, just as Obamacare could have been repealed last week. Legislation can be changed. And that magical day when there are no more RINOs or Democrats in Congress would still be in our future (I include myself in this wish) to make the world a perfect place.
But let us take an inventory of what conservative concepts are not happening today that would have happened with a “yes” vote (and I’m sure you will inform if any of these are wrong, but please be specific):
- $900 billion in Obamacare taxes did not go away
- $1.2 trillion in federal spending on Obamacare will still take place
- The first Medicaid reform ever is not happening
- Individual and employer mandates are still with us
- Planned Parenthood will not be defunded
- Enhanced medical insurance requirements of Obamacare must still be in every insurance plan (a supposedly “final” demand of the Freedom Caucus to which President Trump agreed in his final negotiating session)
Obamacare and everything in the above list could have been gone TODAY! It may have been replaced by something less than a “true Republican” wants (damn those pesky compromises), but IT WOULD BE GONE! That is another immutable fact. Why is it still in force today? (By the by, that is a rhetorical question.)
Finally, I was disappointed to see the term RINO cast about so casually. That is a term I very much dislike. It is just another way for some Republicans (the minority of Republicans, by the by) to say they are better Republicans than other Republicans. I see it as the Republican equivalent of the “N-word” and said with about the same level of contempt. I thought the Republican Party was the “Big Tent” Party. Apparently not.