There has been a concerted effort from the establishment, and it would appear now even President Donald Trump, to pin the RINOcare bill failure on the Freedom Caucus and spin the narrative that conservatives are now responsible for Obamacare.
But it is not the Freedom Caucus that is to blame for the failure to repeal Obamacare, it is Paul Ryan and the bait-and-switch caucus he leads. Paul Ryan campaigned to fully repeal Obamacare, but when it came time to put up a bill, it ended up being a giveaway to the insurance industry that tried to fix Obamacare, rather than repeal.
Ryan’s bait-and-switch caucus is now leading the attack on conservatives who thought Ryan meant what he said. But what has happened is that, once again, leadership and the rest of the bait-and-switch caucus has proven that they didn’t really mean what they said during the last seven years of campaigning.
Ryan blames “governing” vs being the opposition, but that’s a fallacious canard. The favorite phrase of those that don’t want to follow through on their campaign-trail promises is “but we have to ‘govern.'” It’s as if the only way to “govern” is to grow the size and scope of government, which is exactly what the American Health Care Act would have done.
It didn’t have to be this way. Ryan could have easily brought up the 2015 Obamacare reconciliation bill that ultimately passed both chambers of Congress in January of 2016, with almost every single republican voting for it. By not doing so, Ryan let us all know his dirty little secret. He didn’t mean anything he said during the last seven years of campaigning. What Ryan means by, “being the opposition is easy,” and “governing is hard,” is that when there’s no chance of what you are supporting becoming law, it is easy to act the way the people who sent you to Washington want. But when it really matters, it’s the lobbyists, and inside-the-Beltway interests that get their way.
Here’s what Ryan said in January of 2016 after Obama vetoed the bill.
After President Obama vetoed the repeal legislation, Paul Ryan promised to bring that bill to the House and send it to the Senate. That is not what he did. Instead he pulled a bait and switch, and sent a bill that didn’t repeal Obamacare, but merely tweaked around the edges.
Paul Ryan promised one thing and did another. Then when he failed, he and his fellow members of the bait-and-switch caucus decided to blame conservatives who refused to go along with the Washington parlor trick.
This failure rests on the shoulders of Speaker Ryan and his fellow Wisconsinite who serves as President Trump’s chief of staff. It is time that both of them, and the president, keep their promises.
This week, Speaker Ryan should abandon his RINOcare bill and bring the 2015 reconciliation bill to the floor of the House for a vote.
It’s time to stop the bait and switch.
Editor’s note: An unedited version of this piece was accidentally published. It has been updated with the edited version.
Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC.