WASHINGTON, Juy 18, 2017 – This may be the worst possible outcome for the country and for supporters of the GOP. Last night, Senators Mike Lee (R, UT) and Jerry Moran (R, KS) said that they would not vote for the Senate’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
That means at least four of the 52 GOP Senators will vote no. The bill would not have passed the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that he will not bring the bill to a vote. As an alternative, he suggested that the Senate vote to repeal the ACA and then delay the appeal for two years so that a new bill can be constructed, but that may not have sufficient support.
When President Trump won election last Fall, the Americans that voted for him, as well as voting for the members of Congress that shared Trump’s views, expected swift, unified action. The GOP was given a majority in the Senate, a majority in the House of Representatives and the Presidency.
Voters said there is no reason for failure. Yet, the GOP has failed. The House just barely passed their version of a repeal and replace. The Senate can’t agree. The public is frustrated and extremely disappointed.
The GOP failure is due to vast differences between the views of GOP Senators. While the party tends to be conservative, some members are more conservative than others. Rand Paul (R-KY) for instance is a physician and a libertarian. He believes that the government should have little if any, interference in people’s lives.
Paul wants to completely repeal the ACA and not really replace it with anything. He wants to return to completely free market conditions in health care, while giving some federal funds to each state to care for their uninsured. Getting the government completely out of the health care is his primary goal.
He said he would not support the Senate bill because it simply modified the government’s role in the health care market and did not eliminate it. Calling the bill “Obamacare lite” he said,
“The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. I want to repeat that so everyone realizes why I’ll vote ‘no’ as it stands now. The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. Not even close.”
There are at least three or four other GOP Senators who share Paul’s view.
On the other side, is Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). She indicated that she would vote no on the Senate bill, but for exactly the opposite reasons. She said that repeal of the ACA without a more compassionate position to the uninsured and those currently receiving Medicaid.
Collins no vote is because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that 22 million Americans would lose their health insurance coverage within 10 years if the Senate bill was passed.
She also says that recent polls show that a majority of Americans actually now approve of the ACA. A poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal/NBC showed just 16 percent of Americans approved of the Senate bill.
It’s time for the GOP to govern.
For the past seven years, the GOP has been critical of the prior administration’s policies, noting that on virtually every issue the Dems have failed. The economy has been stuck in a slow growth funk for ten, every foreign policy action turned out to be disastrous and the health care market has been turned upside down.
Part of the blame lies with President Trump. He strongly criticized his predecessor for not reaching out to the opposing party and not orchestrating a compromise. Yet he did the same thing.
Trump keeps meeting with GOP Senators, but he will not succeed in passing legislation. He should have also reached out to Democratic leaders. Democratic President Bill Clinton found compromise with Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. GOP President Reagan compromised with Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neil.
If Trump is the great negotiator that he told us he was, then it is time for him to negotiate and to lead. The healthcare issue must be resolved. Once this is accomplished he can turn his attention to tax cuts, the budget, the debt ceiling, and infrastructure, the other crucial policy planks that won him the 2016 national presidential election.