GOP’s “Obamacare Lite” Bill Causes Rift between Establishment, Moderates and Conservatives

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For the last 5 – 6 years Republican politicians have campaigned on the promise that the would repeal Obamacare. Slowly but surely the American people listened and handed the reins of power to the GOP. First, the GOP won back the House of Representatives in an unprecedented wave election. Then, the American public handed Republicans the Senate. Finally, a Republican was elected to the Presidency and the GOP had control of every branch of elected government. Surely, now the GOP would fulfill their central promise of the last decade – the one thing that remained constant in each and every local, state, and national election – and repeal Obamacare?

Sadly, now that the Republicans have unveiled their “Obamacare Repeal and Replacement” Plan, it’s clear that they have no desire to repeal the healthcare monstrosity at all. Some are calling it “Ryancare,” others have taken to referring to the healthcare bill as “Trumpcare” because the President has wholeheartedly embraced the plan.

While we may be unsure of what to nickname the new bill, there is one thing that the right-wing of the party is in agreement on; the GOP bill is nothing more than “Obamacare Lite.”

Three of the most important conservative think tanks all panned the bill, “The Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm called it “bad policy.” FreedomWorks panned it as “Obamacare-lite.” And the Club for Growth called it a “warmed-over substitute for government-run health care.”’

Here’s what the conservatives at Heritage Action had to say about the bill:

“In many ways, the House Republican proposal released last night not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them. Ronald Reagan once said, ‘Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.’ The AHCA does all three.

“Many Americans seeking health insurance on the individual market will notice no significant difference between the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) and the American Health Care Act.  That is bad politics and, more importantly, bad policy.

“Rather than accept the flawed premises of Obamacare, congressional Republicans should fully repeal the failed law and begin a genuine effort to deliver on longstanding campaign promises that create a free market health care system that empowers patients and doctors.”

However, it’s not just the think tanks, the politicians leading the conservative charge in Congress have almost all come out against the plan.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT):

“This is not the Obamacare repeal bill we’ve been waiting for. It is a missed opportunity and a step in the wrong direction,” Sen. Lee said.
 
“We promised the American people we would drain the swamp and end business as usual in Washington. This bill does not do that. We don’t know how many people would use this new tax credit, we don’t know how much it will cost, and we don’t know if this bill will make health care more affordable for Americans.”
 
“This is exactly the type of back-room dealing and rushed process that we criticized Democrats for and it is not what we promised the American people.”
 
“Let’s fulfill our Obamacare repeal promise immediately and then take our time and do reform right. Let’s pass the 2015 repeal bill that Republicans in both houses of Congress voted for and sent to the White House just 15 months ago. Once Obamacare has been properly sent to the dustbin of history then we can begin a deliberative, open, and honest process to reform our nation’s health care system.”

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY):

Senator Paul has appeared on every news show that would give him a hearing to decry the possibility that this bill might be embraced as the GOP plan for Obamacare. He has even promised that this bill WILL NOT pass the Senate.

Senator Paul and Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) co-wrote an op-ed earlier this week for Fox News where they argued that this bill is not the answer that Republicans promised the American people.

We own repeal. We ran on it. It is our idea. We have to pass it cleanly, now.

 Then we owe the American people a real-old fashioned period of allowing all ideas to be debated and voted on to produce the best product possible.

 We’ve got ours ready.  We’ve already sponsored the replacement.  We’ll advocate for – a free market plan that would lower cost and increase access for millions of Americans.  The repeal we support has a timeframe to allow the market to work and ensure Americans don’t lose coverage.  We would love to debate it and hear my colleagues’ amendments.

 Just as soon as we pass the real, clean repeal that we promised we would.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR):

Senator Cotton didn’t come out “against” the bill per se but he does have major reservations with passing this bill any time soon.

“This is a big issue. This is not like the latest spending bill that gets released on a Monday night, [passed] on Wednesday and everybody goes home for Christmas, and we live with it for nine months,” he said.

“We’re going to live with health care reform that we pass forever, or until it’s changed in the far distant future,” he said.

“So I don’t think we need to introduce legislation on Monday and have one chance to amend it on Wednesday,” he said. “I would much sooner get health care reform right than get it fast.

Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH):

Rep. Jordan has developed into a powerful voice against the “Obamacare-lite” bill, criticizing it in the strongest terms possible and agreeing with Rep. Meadows and Senator Paul that the best thing to do FIRST would be to pass a “clean” repeal of Obamacare.

“Let’s do this right and, more importantly, let’s do what we told the voters we were going to do. That’s why today I’ll be introducing legislation which just says clean repeal. Let’s vote on the exact same thing — 15 months ago, every single Republican in the House, every single Republican in the Senate voted on. We put it on President Obama’s desk.

“Every conservative group out there is opposed to this legislation, because as I said yesterday and others have said, I think it’s ObamaCare in a different form because we didn’t tell the voters we were going to repeal ObamaCare but keep some of the ObamaCare taxes. We didn’t tell the voters we’re going to repeal ObamaCare but keep and extend Medicaid expansion. And we certainly didn’t tell the voters we were going to repeal ObamaCare but start a new entitlement.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX):

Of course, with Senators Lee and Paul being united you had to know that Senator Cruz would likely be on board with his “whacko bird” friends. Conservatives should be thankful to have three leaders with a backbone in the Senate.

While Cruz hasn’t been as vocal as other conservatives on his stand against the bill he did say that he had some a “number of concerns” with the bill as it currently stands. “I have a number of concerns with the draft bill, but the proper way to address those concerns is through working with colleagues in the House and the Senate and the administration, and that is what I’m doing right now,” Cruz told the media.

Just last week he could be seen retweeting his friends Mike Lee and Rand Paul and enunciating a similar position to the one they are taking now.

 

What happens next is anyone’s guess, but things are going to get tense. There is a definite and obvious rift between conservatives and the moderates in the GOP, the problem is that neither side can advance their bills without the support of the other, which means this intra-party fight will probably get worse before it gets better.

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