Earlier today, a couple of Republican officials, in a refreshing display of honesty, admitted what we have known all along: They don’t want to repeal Obamacare. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R,Ky.) admitted there won’t be another attempt:
Mcconnell making clear Obamacare repeal efforts dead. “We have the existing law in place and we’ll just have to see how that works out.”
— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) March 28, 2017
He’s certainly come a long way from his 2014 campaign promise to repeal Obamacare “root and branch” and his 2013 CPAC speech in which he said “anybody who thinks we’ve moved beyond it is dead wrong.”
As we explained yesterday, the compromise solution for repealing the core of Obamacare (but not quite all of it) is already on the table, and Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has already agreed to and campaigned on it. Why aren’t they doing it? Because they don’t want to repeal Obamacare and never intended to. As early as 2014, the Chamber of Commerce made it clear that their official position was to fix, not repeal Obamacare. Money talks, everything else from there walks.
This sentiment was evident today when Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Senate majority whip, said that they will no longer pursue repeal of Obamacare through budget reconciliation and that “it needs to be done on a bipartisan basis, and so we’re happy to work on it with Democrats if we can find any who are willing to do so.”
There you have it, folks. They know darn well there are no Democrats who will ever have incentive to work with them to repeal Obamacare. They have always known that this had to be done unilaterally either through reconciliation or by blowing up the filibuster. But Republicans never intended to do so. That’s why we heard all these phony excuses about process limitations. Now that they are proven false, Cornyn is at least being honest by saying they will repeal it when Democrats help them. When hell freezes over …
Former Congressman Jim McCreary, who is now a private citizen and can be even more blunt, told CNBC this is a binary choice between “something like Obamacare” and single-payer:
“You have to have something like Obamacare if you want a health care system that gets as many people covered as possible that’s not single payer,” McCrery says. “That’s what Republicans have to realize sooner or later. That’s their choice.” […]
“A private health insurance system, which I believe can manage the provision of health care better (and) more efficiently than government, needs to have a large pool of insureds in order to succeed,” McCrery explained. “Anything less leads to coverage gaps in the population that will eventually become politically untenable, leading to a government-run single payer system.”
That is actually the most honest statement I’ve seen from a former member, a sentiment which accurately describes the private thinking of the current members who are in charge of GOP health care policy. You see, Republicans have no intention of lowering the cost of health care and health insurance through the 20 ideas we’ve laid out, many of which the GOP adopted in rhetoric on the campaign trail. Thus, absent a free market, we will be left with an Obamacare-like zombie private sector system in perpetual need of bailouts, subsidies, and dependency … or a single-payer system. Unfortunately, McCrery’s former colleagues weren’t honest enough to admit that RINOcare was essentially that system, but because it lacked the individual mandate, it would have led to single payer. Instead, they lied and called their bill a repeal of Obamacare.
Now, keep in mind, we have only discussed House Republicans throughout this RINOcare fight. Despite their obvious shortcomings, they look like the founding fathers compared to Senate Republicans. As Roll Call reports, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the lead Senate Republican on health care, is committed to holding hearings on fixing Obamacare and Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are supporting the Cassidy-Collins bill, which is even worse. It literally keeps all of Obamacare and then some.
Republicans, with very few exceptions, have long moved on from repealing Obamacare. This has nothing to do with the specific fight over Ryan’s bill. It has everything to do with a political party that runs on our views during elections in order to preempt any competition or the rise of a new party, but then uses the Democrat position as the policy baseline once they are in office. Much like the “socialist ratchet” Margaret Thatcher warned of, they present us with binary idolatry and false choices. “Do you want Obamacare or single payer?” Unfortunately, they haven’t packaged their subterfuge this way — at least not until now.
There are two viable options on the table that will demonstrate who actually wants to fulfill the promise to repeal Obamacare. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) has filed a discharge petition to get a floor vote on his simple one-sentence repeal bill. A discharge petition requires 218 members in order to bypass the committee process and force a floor vote, but it will place members on record when it actually matters. Alternatively, the Freedom Caucus leadership has already put out a compromise plan that would leave some elements of Medicaid expansion and subsidies, and create funding for high risk pools so long as all of the Obamacare regulations are repealed. Any member who believes that this is “purist” lied to their constituents when they promised full repeal. Nothing more, nothing less.
At its core, this is not about health care. This is about a party that stands for nothing more than being slightly different from Democrats, and uses Democrat policies — no matter how destructive, immoral, and costly — as the legitimate baseline for their beliefs. They have no standalone affirmative beliefs beyond the Democrat baseline. This is the logical result of the mentality of voting for the lesser of two evils. We never move beyond the evil.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.