If you’re like me you’re probably constantly puzzled at the words verbally vomited from Paul Ryan’s mouth when it comes to his dishonest explanation of his Obamacare amendment. It’s the repeal they promised, he claims. It’s exactly what America needs, so he says. It’s the solution that will solve all of Obamacare’s problems.
But it isn’t. Not even close. It’s not a repeal. It’s not what we want or need. And it will do nothing to solve Obamacare’s problems.
You don’t have to be a policy wonk or legislative expert to see the writing on the wall. The #RINOcare amendment is a massive failure to produce what was promised in the past few election cycles. We all see that so why can’t Paul Ryan?
He does. He may be dishonest, but he’s no fool. This is a gamble on his part. One that keeps the special interests bankrolling his leadership team happy while kicking the can down the road and avoiding a fight with a rabid Democrat party that will fight tooth and nail to blame Republicans for throwing granny off a cliff after a clean repeal.
It’s an unfortunate risk he appears all too happy to take. But one that carries electoral dangers Ryan appears ready to underestimate.
Chris Buskirk describes the situation with precision over at American Greatness.
For seven years Republicans have campaigned against Obamacare. They’ve recited its manifold deficiencies and depredations so many times that voters know them by heart: It imposes an unworkable and morally objectionable requirement on Americans to buy health insurance whether they want it or not, it raises costs, reduces choice, and leads to rationing.
All of these things are true and ordinary Americans have felt the consequences. Premiums have skyrocketed, people have lost coverage, businesses have closed as a result of the Obamacare mandates, the exchanges have gone bankrupt, and insurance companies still haven’t figured out how to make money in the individual market. Through it all the Republicans have promised to repeal “the government takeover of healthcare” if only voters would give them power.
And they did. Voters provided the money and the votes to give Republicans the power they said they needed to repeal Obamacare. Hundreds of millions of dollars flowed into Republican coffers. The 2010 midterm elections were an historic rebuke to the Democrats as a direct result of their Obamacare votes. But that wasn’t enough. Republican leaders testified repeatedly that they wanted to repeal Obamacare and surely they would if only they controlled the Senate. Then Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) liked to remind impatient voters that Republicans only “controlled one-half of one-third of the government.”
In 2014 voters gave Republicans what they said they needed—control of the Senate. But with that victory still fresh, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said even that wasn’t enough. He wanted to repeal Obamacare but his hands were tied—the president would surely veto any such legislation. What they needed was a Republican president. And in 2016 they got one. Now voters want the Obamacare repeal they have been promised. But Ryan’s healthcare bill does no such thing.
Warning signs were everywhere as soon as Congress got back to Washington. As early as January, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) told The Hill, “I’m hearing a lot of members say that they want Obamacare-lite. That’s not what we promised the American people.”
No it’s not, but that’s what Paul Ryan has proposed. His bill leaves the infrastructure of Obamacare in place and creates a massive new federal healthcare entitlement program in the form of refundable tax credits. These credits are just camouflage for government checks to buy health insurance. They are unwise and unaffordable in their infancy under the Ryan plan but everyone knows the size and scope of the program will only grow over time.
The Republican leadership thinks that their half-measures and clever branding are a sign of moderation and prudence but they are courting disaster. They apparently learned nothing about the fury of scorned voters during the last election.
That last paragraph is key. They are indeed courting disaster and Democrats sit in the shadows just waiting to pounce.
Paul Ryan and his leadership seem oblivious to election realities. Which is amazing considering how successful they’ve been at using special interest money to trick voters into believing in what they sell.
The reality is the wave that has put them in power has been predominantly built on the pledge to fully repeal Obamacare. This promise has been, quite literally, the core of GOP messaging for the past three election cycles. All three of which gave the GOP more strength in controlling federal government.
Additionally, 2016 included a national Trump wave that got the vote out in epic ways. Trump will not be on the ballot in 2018. And if Ryan’s GOP proves itself unwilling to follow through with promises, what exactly will Republicans run on next year? What will be at the core of their messaging?
Democrats will be able to say the GOP had a chance and messed things up. This because #RINOcare will inevitably fail to do anything remotely close to providing relief on the healthcare front. And the GOP will own every second of the pain this amendment causes.
Ryan and the GOP leadership are playing with fire. A fire that will not only burn their majorities, but will also burn the rest of us in the process.
And to put it in healthcare terms… that’s a tough pill to swallow.