As the page turned on the January 2017 calendar, the mood in Washington was confident and upbeat regarding repealing Obamacare. It was supposed to be simple: Get rid of tax penalties for not buying insurance, get rid of mandates, and repeal the law that has grown like kudzu through the halls of Congress and the lives of the American people.
That was the plan, anyway, according to some of the leading GOP spokesmen at the time. “There’s no disagreement among Republicans that we’re going to repeal Obamacare,” said Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC 08) in an appearance on the “What Matters in North Carolina” podcast on January 5.
Hudson also said, “What you’ll see is a bill move very quickly through the House and Senate to repeal Obamacare, using a budget process called reconciliation. This is a process that allows a vote that can’t be filibustered in the Senate, so 51 votes can pass it.”
Hudson also said, ““There will be a time period that we will have to put that new health care reform in place, before Obamacare goes away. But Obamacare will be eliminated with that legislation that’s going to pass next month.”
Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC 09) has these words on his Congressional website: “We must repeal and replace Obamacare with a truly affordable health care plan based on freedom of choice, protection for those with pre-existing conditions, and increased competition to lower costs for every American.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Wednesday, “We’ve had time to hear what’s going to be in the new bill, and as far as I can tell, the new bill is the same as the old bill except for it leaves in place more taxes, increases taxpayer subsidies to buy insurance, and adds about $70 billion to the insurance bailout superfund. I don’t see anything in here really remotely resembling repeal. And I’ve said for some time now that the bill has to looks more like repeal to get my vote.”
Daniel Horowitz wrote at conservativereview.com yesterday, “The core problem with the GOP bill is that it keeps every essential element of Obamacare. The core problem of Obamacare is that after the government already took over half of health care, the ACA made the remainder of the private market so heavily regulated, subsidized, and distorted that nobody could afford either health care itself or medical insurance without government assistance.”
The bill Horowitz is calling “Swampcare” is a gargantuan expansion of government regulation and waste. It defies any reasonable understanding of what the words “repeal Obamacare” mean. It is a failure on the part of the Republican leadership in Congress to keep their word to the American people.
We have a group of elected officials who campaigned in 2016 that they would repeal Obamacare “root and branch,” and who were elected overwhelmingly to do just that. They have, however, apparently forgotten the pledge they made to get the albatross that is the Affordable Care Act off the backs of Americans, and instead are playing “politics as usual.”
The swamp has not been drained. The people entrusted to get rid of the onerous tax penalties, the individual and business mandates and the subsidies for insurance companies have abandoned the people who elected them. It’s one of the most egregious and blatant betrayals of campaign promises ever.
Several things have stalled repeal. Republicans have a less-than-stellar track record when it comes to leading in Congress. They easily cave to the whims of the Democrats, as evidenced by their funding every Democrat priority in their budget deals. Perhaps there is a huge money trail that would explain what happened, fueled by insurance companies and all manner of the other players in the healthcare industry and their PACs.
Maybe the Republicans in Congress secretly like big government, no matter how much they rail against it during the campaign season. Instead of a free-market solution to the healthcare crisis in America, they are choosing to expand government, again.
Perhaps that’s what happened.
If Republicans do not realize quickly that they are wasting their opportunity to do what is right, and keep their word to the American people, many of them may well be standing around in November 2018 after election night asking, “What happened?”