September 26, 2017
If you thought cats had a lot of lives, you should see the GOP health care repeal. Every time the effort seems doomed, Republicans manage to paddle it back to life -- as if they're as desperate to save their majority as they are to stop the hemorrhaging of our healthcare system. Yesterday, Democrats didn't even go to the trouble of pronouncing the bill dead when Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) decided to tank the latest vote.
As if rolling back a $3 trillion law isn't complicated enough, the members driving the effort have to deal with liberal Republicans who seem intent on making the repeal's death an inside job. From Senator John McCain's (R-Ariz.) unrealistic call for regular order to Collins's pro-abortion betrayal, leadership has its hands full. But despite the odds, no one seems ready to talk about the Graham-Cassidy bill in the past tense. "My preference obviously would be to pass [Obamacare repeal] this week," Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) told reporters. "But if that's not the case, I agree with Senator Graham. We're both on the Budget Committee, and we'll insist on passing a budget that would have reconciliation instructions for both tax reform and health care reform."
Republicans have said all along that the September 30 deadline wasn't the end of the conversation. Although they'd love to put a bow on this debate and move on to tax reform with a major victory in the bank, nothing is stopping them from resetting the clock on Obamacare. Senator Johnson's plan -- and others' -- is to use the 2018 budget resolution to unlock the power of the reconciliation process again. That means Republicans can move forward with their measure to gut Obamacare with just 51 votes, instead of the impossible 60-vote threshold. The other option is to hitch the repeal onto the tax overhaul, which there appears to be little appetite to do.
As frustrated as voters must be, there is some comfort in the fact that conservatives refused to give in to Collins's demands to drop the language defunding Planned Parenthood. According to Hill sources, that was the condition of her support -- one, fortunately, that conservatives refused. Without the language ending America's forced partnership between taxpayers and the abortion industry, there is no health care reform. And no pro-life support. So, in the midst of these challenges, we applaud the conservative leaders for rejecting a deal that would have done far more damage to the credibility of the GOP than another delay in the debate.
When Republicans do reboot their health care push, Senator Graham says members will have a clear choice.
"Federalism versus socialism, you decide what you want. Under Obamacare, it's not working... So here's what we do: we repeal the employer mandate and the individual mandate at the federal level. If you want to re-impose them at the state level, you can. If you want to go to a single-payer health care in California or Oregon, you can -- you just can't drag South Carolina with you. We take the rest of the funding for Obamacare that would've gone to federal bureaucrats, insurance companies, and we block-grant it back to the states over a 10-year period to achieve parity and cut spending by 2030. We give states flexibility and control over the money -- and you have more voice over how your health care will be administered, because the people in charge of it, you can vote for. [Unlike] Obamacare, [where] some bureaucrats who could really not care that much about you [make the decisions]... I think it's a very good idea. It's called federalism."
Even more importantly, he explained on Monday's "Washington Watch," "We're gonna take that money and allocate it back to the states -- and the Hyde language will follow every dollar. And that's not true of Obamacare." In other words, every cent of his plan's money will be subject to pro-life law. "If we fail, then it's just a matter of time until we have Berniecare," Graham warned. "Obamacare isn't good enough for liberals. They want to go to Berniecare, which is socialized, 100 percent, government-run health care... Obamacare is a placeholder for Berniecare. The Graham-Cassidy bill ends the march to single-payer health care."
Of course, he agreed, his bill isn't perfect. Few are. But, he told me, "If we're not for this, what are we for? To the [Democrats'] credit, they have a belief in their ideas and they're willing to fight for them. We passed Obamacare on Christmas Eve. They used reconciliation. There isn't anything they won't do to get their way... We need to be as determined to repeal it as they were to replace it. We have to get the power out of Washington. If we win this fight, we change the course of spending and health care. And if we lose this fight, God help your children and grandchildren."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.