“False lips are an abomination of the Lord, but those who work faithfully are His delight.” Proverbs 12:22
The lying being employed to preserve Obamacare has likely surpassed the degree of intensity of the Gang of Eight immigration bill when Republicans were trying to convince conservatives the bill was the opposite of what it actually did.
At the time, they lied about the nature of the bill, its outcomes, its cause and effect, and the entire premise behind it. They used conservative talking points to describe something antithetical to what was actually in the bill while at the same time telling us lies about the legislative process. Allies of GOP leadership also managed to get liberal groups to fund ads in conservative districts selling amnesty as border enforcement.
All of those elements are playing out this week — except the stakes and magnitude of the lying is worse.
Out of one side of their mouths varying establishment figures say #RINOcare is full repeal. When we demonstrate that it’s not, they blame the Senate parliamentarian and congressional process. They say we cannot repeal the price-hiking, competition-destroying regulations that form the core of Obamacare because the parliamentarian won’t allow those provisions through the budget reconciliation process.
A logical observer of this subterfuge would ask the following question:
Privately, other leadership figures will tell rank-and-file members that we can’t repeal the regulations because of political considerations. They are too scared to explain how the pre-existing condition element of Obamacare is the core element driving up prices and inducing a death spiral of insolvency.
Which begs the next logical set of questions:
What is the official story-line of Republicans promoting this fake repeal bill? Do they not want to repeal it? Can they not repeal it because of process constraints? Or is this bill itself actually full repeal of Obamacare, as they keep advertising to the public?
All three choices, evidently!
As for the question of the parliamentarian and the budget process, we have already thoroughly debunked the myth that the regulations cannot be repealed through reconciliation. Based on precedent, CBO’s analysis, the courts, and the power of the vice president (presiding officer of the Senate) to overrule the parliamentarian, the regulations can all be repealed in a one-sentence bill. Republican leaders, who are owned by the Obamacare-loving Chamber of Commerce, just don’t want to do it. There are cants and there are wonts. This is a clear example of wont.
But here’s further proof they are lying to us about the constraints of the budget reconciliation process. The fine print of their own bill self-incriminates their contention that regulations cannot be repealed through the budget reconciliation. I noted before that the Congressional Research Service lists 24 regulations in Obamacare. The heart and soul of what drives up the costs are the core regulations of guaranteed issue, community rating, and the requirement to cover a panoply of wasteful costs. Those elements are what has made Obamacare insolvent because they force insurers to cover everyone under every circumstance for every disease at the same price of the general public. It takes the concept of insurance out of insurance. Hence, the crushing costs for everyone and the lack of choice and competition.
However, there are a bunch of other regulations that have a much smaller impact on the marketplace. Two of the 24 regulations are actually repealed or modified in this GOP bill. They are called “actuarial value” and age-rating restrictions. They will only have a negligible effect, especially because actuarial value is not repealed until 2020, long after the death spiral will occur.
It’s not important to get into the details of what these regulations do, but the inclusion of them in the GOP bill demonstrates incontrovertibly that when Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. (F, 51%) wants to stick regulation repeal into budget reconciliation he can. There are also several other extraneous provisions in the bill that don’t have a positive budgetary effect, yet Republicans don’t seem to worry about the parliamentarian striking them out of the process.
The bottom line is that the parliamentarian has no right to subject every individual provision of the bill to the “Byrd Rule” (requirement to have a budget effect) instead of looking at the entire bill in totality as a net budget cut. Ryan is simply lying when he says we can’t repeal guaranteed issue and community rating, which have a much greater budgetary impact than almost anything else he does include in the bill.
Paul Ryan and administration officials also promise us that there will be future repeal efforts.
First, let’s just note for the record that this in itself self-incriminates their other lies; namely that the current bill is full repeal and will bring down prices and/or that full repeal is not politically feasible. Be it as it may, they are trapped in another double lie. If it is their contention that the parliamentarian has judicial review over the majority party and the future of our health care, then we never have the ability to repeal the worst elements of Obamacare. Nothing will change in the future. They should admit this point publicly and stop lying to the voters.
Under the GOP establishment’s assumption that budget reconciliation constrains them from repealing the regulations and enacting conservative reforms, we will have this same problem in “round two” and “round three.” The only other options for passing any conservative bill would be to eliminate the filibuster or enforce the “two speech rule,” which they have expressed no desire to do. What we can or can’t do on round one holds true for every round.
There are many more lies to debunk and will have to be addressed in future articles. For example, Ryan said that the regulations can be repealed administratively by HHS Secretary Tom Price. Aside from the fact that Republicans have demonstrated they don’t want to repeal them, this is simply not true.
What is really playing out is reminiscent of ancient Persia whereby “a writ that is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be rescinded" [Esther, 8:8]. No Democrat policy — no matter how destructive and illogical — can ever be repealed because of the lies promulgated by the political class. They lie to us about the nature of the policies and they make up excuses to avoid repealing those policies in order to cover their original lies. Sadly, while Democrats lie in pursuit of their goals and aspirations, Republicans lie in pursuit of the other side’s ideals.
Daniel Horowitz is a Senior Editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.