OP-ED: Shooting Yourself in the Foot, A Congressman’s Guide

(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

            Last week, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) successfully made the first step towards torpedoing their prospects for 2018, when House Republicans finally unveiled their proposal to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.  Their solution, entitled “the American Health Care Act,” is not so much a replacement as it is a death wish.

            The AHCA, as it currently exists, would absolutely eviscerate the gains in health coverage made under the admittedly flawed Obamacare project.  Standard & Poors estimates that anywhere from 6 to 10 million Americans would lose their current coverage under the AHCA, which shrinks federal income tax credits for the insured by up to two thirds, and would leave states scrambling to fill a $380 billion shortfall in the Medicaid program.  Despite the insistence of Speaker Ryan and Press Secretary Sean Spicer, this is not “Obamacare 2.0.”  The AHCA is, in fact, objectively worse, to such an extent that even some of the ACA’s harshest critics in the Senate are refusing to get behind the bill.

            Many prominent Republicans, such as Senators Tom Cotton, (R-Ark.) Rand Paul (R-Ken.) and Dean Heller, (R-Nev.) have come out strongly against the AHCA, claiming that it is not passable in the Senate.  While House GOP leadership wants to categorize the bill as a budget reconciliation measure – which would let Senate Republicans block an inevitable filibuster from Democrats with a simple majority – it is highly unlikely that the Senate parliamentarian will view it as such.  This is a potentially fatal procedural obstacle.  Between partisan opposition from Democrats and reluctance to destroy an increasingly popular program by vulnerable Republicans, it would be almost impossible to get the required 60 votes to force a vote on the Senate floor.

            If this bill is to succeed, it will have to be changed.  Republicans desperately need a victory on this front.  With both Congress and the President’s approval ratings sitting well in the negative, Democrats have been quietly plotting the GOP’s downfall in 2018.  Even Mr. Ryan has acknowledged that a failure in the Senate would bring about a “bloodbath” in the next election.  However, GOP leadership in the House has thus far refused to specify where they’re willing to compromise.  They better figure it out fast.

Ford Mulligan Staff Reporter