After making promises for six years to repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law that is ruining U.S. healthcare, are Republicans getting ready to blow it?
GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin say no; critics, like Sen. Rand Paul, himself a physician, say yes.
But what does the president of the United States – who will have to sign off on any new measure – say? Only that he’s willing to negotiate with all parties to come up with a final version that a) is acceptable to as many lawmakers as possible; and b) does not saddle the GOP with passage of something that, if not worse than Obamacare certainly is no better.
“I’ve always been for repeal and replace at the same time, but not necessarily in the same bill,” Paul told Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM satellite radio Friday. “The reason why I think you need ‘replace’ is we need to offer hope, and we need to offer an insurance product that is inexpensive, and something that will fix the marketplace so everybody can get access to health insurance.” (RELATED: Sen. Paul Says House GOP Leaders “Pulling Wool Over Trump’s Eyes” On Obamacare Repeal Bill.)
He went on to say that President Trump told him he was willing to talk about what ought to be in a final repeal-and-replace measure, which should give hope to the tens of millions of Americans currently saddled with the Obamacare disaster and who voted for the GOP and Trump to fix it.
The plan – known as The American Health Care Act – has been touted by Ryan as the first-and-last best chance to repeal Obamacare that the GOP has had since it took effect. But while Paul says there are elements within the the AHCA that conservatives can agree on, it also retains too much of what is bad about Obamacare.
“Some of those things we actually agree with Paul Ryan on. The problem is Paul Ryan has a lot of Obamacare Lite stuff that he wants to keep in there,” Paul said. “He wants to keep the Obamacare subsidies. He calls them tax credits, refundable tax credits. He wants to keep the Obamacare taxes, all of the taxes, for a year – and then he wants to keep the Cadillac tax, the tax on good insurance, forever.”
Ryan, for his part, says the House had to adhere to strict rules during what he described as a three-phase approach to repealing Obamacare, in order to avoid having the entire measure filibustered in the Senate. “This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare,” he said, as reported by the Washington Times. “It really comes down to a binary choice.”
But conservatives aren’t convinced. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., says the bill the House has come up with has no chance in the Senate, so members should go back to the drawing board. “To my friends in the House: pause, start over. Get it right, don’t get it fast,” he tweeted.
Clearly, then, negotiations are in order.
“I talked to [President Trump] again last night. He said he’s open to negotiation, but I reiterated to him that Paul Ryan went on TV for 45 minutes yesterday with a press conference, and he said, ‘The response to this, the choices are binary.’ Well, binary means there are two choices: either we take it or leave it. Either we take Obamacare Lite or we get nothing. That isn’t sitting well with conservatives, and I promise you, the more we hear Paul Ryan say, ‘Take it or leave it,’ the less we’re willing to take it,” Paul said.
Joel Pollack, editor of Breitbart News, seems to think what will eventually play out is quintessential Trump:
The rollout has been less than stunning. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) made a valiant effort, and the White House is backing him. Yet conservatives in both the House and Senate rejected the bill, Democrats want nothing to do with it, and it looks doomed to fail — if it even comes to a vote.
On the surface, this is a big potential failure for the young Trump presidency. But with the Trump White House, as with the campaign, there is always a certain amount of chaos that is deliberate (though Trump, quite deliberately, never indicates how much).
Pollack notes that in his book, “Art of the Deal” – which he advises Democrats, especially, to study – Trump lives by the negotiating principle, “Protect the downside and the upside will take care of itself.” (RELATED: Keep up with all the latest news at Conservative.news.)
The “upside” is a bill that alleviates the worst parts of Obamacare and makes coverage cheaper and easier for most Americans; the downside is failure, of course – no bill at all or one that “creates new headaches” for the electorate.
As Obamacare 2.0 (or RyanCare as its being called) falters, then GOP leaders will turn to the president to offer a new, better plan. And he will, because he’ll accomplish what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama refused even to attempt – to bring all interested parties aboard: Lawmakers, doctors, insurance companies, and the like.
“Do not be fooled by the bill’s early troubles. Another principle in Art of the Deal is: ‘Deliver the Goods.’ Watch,” Pollack writes.