The bipartisan groups of big spenders in Washington couldn’t even give us a break for Thanksgiving.
Late Friday afternoon, House GOP leaders released a 1,000-page health care spending bill that will grow the already-bloated National Institutes of Health (NIH), create a new spending stream outside of the traditional budget norms, and increase federal involvement in healthcare. This bill has become a catch-all omnibus health care spending package and a magnet for every lobbyist on K Street. Yet, rather than cancelling the lame duck session and saving this endeavor for a new GOP mandate next year, House Republicans plan to drop this complex, multifaceted bill on the floor on Wednesday.
These people never learn. Then again, after cramming through leadership elections before we could even digest the general election results, there is nothing the membership can do now to replace leadership.
Worst of all, at a time when Republican health care committees should be focused on an immediate plan to FULLY repeal Obamacare, why are they focusing on growing the federal footprint in health care?
Despite all the hand-wringing about partisan fighting in Washington, the “21st Century Cures Act” is a quintessential example of the two liberal parties coming together to grow the federal government, increase rather than decrease spending, give handouts to all their respective lobbyists, and sell the bill as the next step to curing cancer. In short, it represents everything wrong with Washington.
The $6.3 billion package contains $4.8 billion in extra funding for the NIH to further research cancer, brain cells, and precision medicine. It also gives the FDA another $500 million to move drugs and medical devices to patients more quickly, and a billion dollars in grants to states to combat the “opioid crisis.”
As is always the case, the bill’s authors have concocted a hodgepodge of notional accounting gimmicks to “pay for” the cost of the bill. Not a single government program is eliminated to offset the cost of this new spending; rather the bill relies on receipts from selling off our Strategic Oil Reserves over ten years to pay for this bill. Using the Strategic Oil Reserves as a private piggybank to pay off lobbyists in order to grow government has become the new go-to source for “spending offsets.”
The House already passed a previous version of this bill in July, 2015, but the new version has tripled in size. At the time, 70 conservatives opposed the bill. The primary sponsors are Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. (F, 34%), Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. (F, 14%), and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. (F, 15%).
There are a couple of other basic problems with this bill and its entire approach:
In light of these priorities from GOP leaders in charge of health care policy, does anyone have faith they will fully repeal Obamacare?
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.