Will Republicans ‘Rue the Day?’ –By Glynn Wilson –
Changing their tune again and playing politics with people’s lives again, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives gambled on the ignorance and apathy of a majority of the American people on Thursday when they managed to wrangle 217 votes to barely pass President Donald Trump’s American Health Care Act, the first step in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.
Not one single Democrat voted for the bill, and 20 Republicans voted against it, but the nays only amounted to 213 votes this time. A similar bill went down to defeat earlier in Trump’s first 100 days in March, and the Republican leadership said at the time it was dead for this year. But faced with mounting criticism for his lax record of accomplishments in his first 100 days, Trump turned up the heat on Republicans and sent Vice President Mike Pence to strong arm House members and make deals to obtain a legislative victory to appear to fulfill one of Trump’s biggest campaign promises.
A party with House members in the White House Rose Garden after the vote may have been premature, since Republicans in the Senate have already signaled they are in no hurry to advance a health care bill. Democratic activists took to Facebook to bash not just the bill’s passage, which they are now calling “Trumpcare,” but the White House celebration, vowing to challenge every Republican who voted for the bill in the 2018 midterm elections.
“My guess is we’re going to spend at least a month looking at the issue,” Republican senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said on MSNBC.
House Republicans cynically said they expect the Senate to make changes to the legislation, to “fix it,” making it clear their vote was political, not designed to move effective legislation, which they rushed to pass even before the independent Congressional Budget Office had time to score the effects of the bill. In the earlier version of the bill, it was projected that 24 million Americans would lose their health insurance.
Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, indicated the Republicans do not have 60 votes in the Senate.
“…They don’t have 60 votes, so it’s dead on arrival,” Manchin said in interviews after the House vote.
While not able to put together enough votes to stop the legislation from passing, House Democrats saw a reason for celebration. As the vote went down, they sang the ‘60s hit “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye),” indicating the Republicans were dooming their own reelection chances by voting to repeal the popular but controversial Obamacare.
Some news outlets are reporting that Trump and Pence got help behind the scenes to force a compromise from New Jersey congressman Tom MacArthur, who is considered a moderate, and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus. It is unknown what individual deals were made with each House Republican to obtain their vote, but some of the specifics of the plan are being reported.
The Trump-House bill appears to gut one of the key provisions of Obamacare, the legal mandate that no person could be denied coverage by any insurance company for a so-called “preexisting condition.” This version of the bill would allow states to opt out of coverage for preexisting conditions, a move conservatives claim would lower premiums by removing sick people from the market, but critics say would allow insurance companies to simply not operate in some states or refuse coverage to an estimated 27 percent of Americans under 65 who have preexisting conditions, include cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
In order to gain the votes of so-called moderate Republicans who opposed the plan, the bill includes a pool of $8 billion over five years to supposedly help subsidize people with preexisting conditions. It is not clear how this will work, so the Senate will have to fix this part of the bill if they plan to pass a version of the legislation.
Health policy experts have argued this fix will not work. The Center for American Progress says the Republican plan would fall woefully short in providing coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions.
The Trump-House plan also defunds Planned Parenthood and makes drastic cuts to Medicaid to the tune of about $370 billion over 10 years. It also cuts $765 billion in taxes to fund the plan over 10 years, almost guaranteeing that the system that is in place now will collapse, as Trump has said all along. If Obamacare was not collapsing before Trump’s election and this House vote, chances are it will now, unless the Senate defeats the bill or takes the time to actually fix the problems in the American health care system as it now exists.
Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi came out firing after the vote, indicating the Democrats could take over a majority in the 2018 midterm elections.
“Most Americans don’t know who their member of Congress is,” she said. “But they will now when they find out that you voted to take away their health care. You have every provision of this bill tattooed on your forehead. You will glow in the dark on this one.”
Activists were livid in the Facebook Resistance, vowing that the Republicans will “rue the day” they voted to take away people’s health care.
The problem is, the Democratic Party does not have a deep bench of qualified candidates to run against Republicans in many districts, so it is not clear that the Democrats can find candidates to mount significant challenges across the country, especially in Deep South states such as Alabama.
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.