So Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and House Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) have cobbled together an amendment to HR 1628, the Affordable Health Care Act, the terrible non-repeal bill cooked up by House leadership last month, that was gratifying pulled from the House floor before its inevitable ignominious defeat. Mick Staton has already opined on the situation. I largely agreed with him, but chose to wait a bit before I weighed in, particularly since the majority of the House Freedom Caucus has gotten behind this amendment. FreedomWorks and other conservative groups have gotten behind it. Perhaps there was something I was missing that would reveal itself.
In a word: No. I’d rather have no bill than this. We all know this will NOT be revisited later on. Leadership and the limp-wristed moderates of the Tuesday Group should be saddled with the blame of failing to repeal the ACA. This is a seminal moment for the Republican party, not just conservatives. If we cannot keep an explicit promise, made repeatedly since 2010, and one which won our party the majority in both houses, we’re finished. The entitlement state will grow and grow until the debt crushes the republic. It really is that clear. That simple. Better to strengthen the ranks of conservatives in Congress, with the goal of passing a full repeal, or in lieu of that, let the ACA collapse of its own weight. At least there will be a stark reality even the Tuesday Group won’t be able to hide from.
It retains most of the original problems. All the mandates are still there, including the “essential benefits”. States will be allowed (‘If it pleases the Crown, may we have our liberty back for a while?’) to apply for waivers from the essential benefits and some premium price mandates for high-risk customers, provided they can meet certain thresholds judged by the HHS Secretary, provide subsidies, and create “high-risk pools”. Waivers will be approved by default, unless the secretary concludes otherwise within 60 days, but what happens when there’s a Democratic, or even liberal/moderate Republican administration? Every waiver will be denied. ACA enrollees will still be grandfathered in. The ‘Cadillac’ tax on high-end plans lives on. The new entitlement dreamed up by Republican ‘leadership’ is still there.
This is NOT repeal of the ACA, or even anything close. It’s a partial rewrite, at best. Simply not good enough. Apparently federalism and actually keeping longstanding promises are no longer a thing with Hill Republicans. The Senate is likely to make the bill even worse, as opposed to improving it. Donald Trump has as about as much principle and policy acumen as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and will sign any Republican bill that reaches his desk, so he can ‘win’… or something.
Anyone thinking there will be any further repeal efforts if this bill passes is fooling themselves. Congressional ‘leadership’ and the trump administration will claim victory and move on, and give short shrift to any conservative repeal effort. It looks like this bill and proposed amendment are still in deep trouble. Good. This bill must be defeated entirely, and Ryan and his liberal pals in the Tuesday Group should be forced to keep the promise of repeal made in 2010, rather than suddenly losing their ardor to do so, now that there’s a Republican President who would sign it. Please contact conservatives like Dave Brat, Tom Garrett, and Morgan Griffith, and urge them (politely) to reject this Faustian bargain, made with Republicans who don’t want to keep their promises. #FullRepeal or bust.