Club for Growth President David McIntosh:
On Tuesday, President Trump met with Republican Senators and declared: The Republican Party will become the Party of Healthcare.
Just hours earlier, the Justice Department told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit they agreed with a ruling from Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that Obamacare is unconstitutional. Despite Republicans having numerous proposals to replace Obamacare, including a high-risk pool plan to protect Americans seeking health insurance that have pre-existing conditions, Trump’s comments created huge consternation in the Senate.
How did we get here?
Beginning in 2010, Republicans began campaigning against Obamacare. First, they said if voters awarded them with a new Republican House Majority, they would begin the Obamacare repeal effort. Voters fired Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the repeal effort began.
The Republican House Majority held repeated votes to repeal Obamacare, but Senate Democrats, led by Harry Reid, staunchly defended President Obama’s signature legislative effort.
Senate Republicans begged voters: Just give us the Senate Majority and we’ll be able to repeal Obamacare with a Republican Senate and Republican House. Voters delivered a knockout punch to Harry Reid and a new Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, was placed in charge of the effort.
The problem was that Barack Obama was sitting in the Oval Office, ready with a veto pen, to affirm his legacy and maintain Obamacare, irrespective of the political cost. While health care premium costs for families soared, Obama was willing to sacrifice the next Democratic Presidential nominee at the expense of his own legacy. He refused to work with Republicans to improve the law.
Republicans in the House and Senate asked voters to put a Republican in the White House who would sign an Obamacare repeal and replace bill into law. The voters gave the Republican Congress a presidential partner in Donald J. Trump, and a unified Republican government got to work to repeal and replace Obamacare in January 2017.
In 2017, Trump had a winning strategy to repeal the government takeover of healthcare, deregulate the insurance market, and increase competition in the healthcare marketplace. But Congress fumbled the political football because they were more concerned with protecting moderate “Majority-Maker” members. But what’s a congressional majority worth if it cannot uphold its end of the bargain with voters?
Sadly, the Obamacare repeal and replace effort was a massive failure. Constrained by the limitations of reconciliation, and with the excuse of how a Senate parliamentarian might rule, Obamacare’s repeal and replace effort turned into “Skinny Repeal.” But the Senate still mismanaged President Trump’s strategy, and failed to pass a bill that did anything to roll back Obamacare. The Obamacare repeal effort was dead. The promise to repeal Obamacare was broken.
In November 2018, despite the confirmation of two Trump nominees to the Supreme Court and historic tax reform, House Democrats rode a blue wave and walloped House Republicans in the ballot box. House Democrats regained the House Majority for the first time since they historically walked the plank for President Obama in order to get Obamacare into law.
This brings us back to this week. A District Court in Texas ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional. President Trump and the Justice Department agreed. An appeal process is underway with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, but what happened after President Trump met with GOP Senators on Tuesday was sadly predictable given the Senate GOP’s refusal to repeal Obamacare.
GOP Senators privately fumed at President Trump’s effort to fulfill the quintessential campaign promise to get rid of Obamacare.
One Republican Senator anonymously told The Hill, “It doesn’t seem to make sense politically.”
Another Republican Senator anonymously told The Hill, “We would be crazy to try to go through what we went through again.”
These Senators are wrong. It is never too late to do the right thing. Repealing Obamacare is a worthy endeavor because Obamacare infringes on individual health care freedom. It has dramatically increased premiums while enriching health insurance companies with record profits. In 2017, the parent company for Blue Cross Blue Shield, Health Care Service Corp., recorded a profit of $1.3 billion, up a whopping 1,126% from 2016 profits.
But quite frankly, this battle isn’t about the health care companies. It’s about the American people. And this fight is about Republican Senators and Republican Representatives that repeatedly made a promise to voters that put them in power that they would repeal Obamacare.
The American people believe they have been lied to.
Now, some of these Senators are showing their true colors: a lack of courage. And they are again breaking their promise to voters to do all they can do to end Obamacare, while they complain about President Trump’s statement agreeing with a District Court that ruled the law unconstitutional. How many Republicans since 2010 said Obamacare was unconstitutional? What is different about President Trump’s statement?
Republican Senators should begin crafting a new Obamacare replacement bill that is not limited to the reconciliation process in case the Supreme Court agrees Obamacare is unconstitutional. They should work with President Trump to write a new plan that fulfills the promises President Trump has made. It will be beautiful health care plan. And as Trump says, it will make the Republican Party the party of health care.
Republicans have a plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions – high risk pools. Our plan to address pre-existing conditions is better for Americans because it does not drive up the cost of everybody else’s insurance plans.
The Trump plan should include allowing individuals to purchase health care plans across state lines and an expansion of health savings accounts. It should empower patients with health care freedom and choice. The plan will protect Americans with pre-existing conditions through a guaranteed high-risk pool funded by a specific congressional appropriation, ensuring that anyone with a pre-existing condition that wants health care is protected. And there are other free-market reforms that can be included.
But the Obamacare regulations that drive up the cost of Obamacare will be gone. The Obamacare taxes will be gone. There is no reason to craft a new plan under the same restrictions an Obamacare alternative would require under reconciliation in the Senate because if the Supreme Court affirms the law is unconstitutional, Congress can start from scratch.
Let’s invite Senators who think it’s okay to break the Obamacare promise again to leave the Senate. Retire. Quit. Let someone run for the Senate who supports President Trump’s effort to end an unconstitutional Obamacare. Replace uncooperative Senators with honest, courageous, and brave Americans who are prepared to support the president in the effort to finally get rid of an unconstitutional Obamacare once and for all. Replace Obamacare with free-market reforms that will truly improve the quality of health care in America. A purge of reluctant Senators in both parties could be a repeal and replacement effort that the American people can truly get behind.