When Donald Trump won the White House in 2016, Congressional Republicans were caught with their proverbial pants down because they were clearly not prepared with the necessary legislation which would have satisfied the various GOP factions in both the House and the Senate.
Speaker Ryan bears the responsibility of bringing the GOP conservative and moderate factions together on important legislation so the Republican conference can vote with a united front. Ryan’s leadership failed miserably trying to accomplish this with the ObamaCare Repeal/Replace bill.
Even though moderates outnumber the conservatives in the House, Ryan should not have excluded the House Freedom Caucus from the process of writing the legislation. Interestingly, Paul Ryan would not have been elected Speaker of the House to begin with had he not had the support of the House Freedom Caucus.
When Ryan unveiled the plan, it took a 3 Phase Approach. Phase One was using the very limited reconciliation process that could be passed with a simple majority, not subject to filibuster. Phase Two was administrative in nature to be carried out by HHS Secretary Tom Price which would address some of the issues that were not allowed in the reconciliation process. ObamaCare gave the HHS Secretary 1,442 instances to administer healthcare. Phase Two did not require congressional action. Phase Three would require using the normal legislative process and would include buying insurance across state lines. It would require Democrat support.
I strongly opposed Ryan’s legislation when he introduced it. Ryan’s very arrogant attitude toward House conservatives was take it or leave it . Ryan stated in the beginning that no amendment would be allowed. This very much poisoned the well in the House. It is a shame that Ryan and many in the House Freedom Caucus put hurt egos ahead of passing legislation which would give relief to small businesses and everyday Americans suffering under the burden of ObamaCare.
President Trump pressed Ryan about allowing amendments and Ryan acquiesced to the President. Trump took over negotiations and tried to soothe the hurt feelings in the House. He openly courted Freedom Caucus members, which had gone on record as opposing the bill. Trump negotiated directly with Freedom Caucus leadership in attempts to bring them on board with the legislation. Pres. Trump wined and dined their members on multiple occasions.
Trump’s team and Speaker Ryan agreed to some changes Freedom Caucus requested because they were under the impression their members would support the bill if changes were made. The changes were made, but Freedom Caucus Leadership came back and requested more changes. This happened several times and eventually de-funding Planned Parenthood was even added to the bill in order to woo conservatives.
The Freedom Caucus insisted on removing the ObamaCare section that required insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions and also the section that allowed children to remain on their parents insurance until they are 26. President Trump told them no because he had promised voters that those sections would remain in his repeal/replace plan. At this point, one or two Freedom Caucus members pledged to support the bill.
The Freedom Caucus made so many demands, that GOP moderates began to move away from supporting the bill. Trump and Administration officials felt that leadership of the Freedom Caucus were not negotiating in good faith. This caused President Trump to give House Republicans an ultimatum, take it or leave it. If the bill didn’t pass, Trump would walk away and just let ObamaCare explode and turn to Democrats to pass reforms. White House Senior Adviser Steve Bannon also told the House Freedom Caucus that the final bill was their last chance to repeal ObamaCare in an attempt to get them to support the bill. Bannon was totally on board with the bill.
Clearly, the Freedom Caucus did not realize that Trump meant what he said because most of their members still refused to support it. They are used to dealing with politicians that are not serious with ultimatums and just use them in political grandstanding. Pres. Trump walked away and showed he was serious. Make no mistake, there will be no repeal / replace now. We will remain suffering under the burden of ObamaCare until it explodes and the Democrats are willing to reform it. You can bet the Democrats won’t agree to the major changes that were included in the bill the Freedom Caucus killed.
Trump laid the blame for the repeal/replace failure at the feet of the Freedom Caucus with his Tweet. The House Freedom Caucus proved themselves to be great obstructionists with Obama in the White House, but they have not pivoted to actually passing legislation that will be signed into law by a Republican President. They demand perfection in legislation which will never garner enough votes to be passed in both the Senate and House, under the current make-up of the House and Senate. Rep. Ted Poe resigned from the House Freedom Caucus over the weekend and he excoriated the Freedom Caucus for blocking Trump’s ObamaCare Repeal/Replacement bill.
Blogger William Hennessey said it best, “Without Power, Principles Are Platitudes“.
The changes to the bill were good, and although not perfect, would be 20 times better than the way things are now. ObamaCare posed hardships on small business and everyday Americans, so we couldn’t afford to wait for a perfect bill which may not ever pass both Houses of Congress. ObamaCare had been in effect for 7 years and its tentacles run deep within our health care system. You couldn’t just yank the rug out from under Americans currently on the system using a full repeal without a replacement. Trump promised they would happen close to, if not at the same time.
Conservative groups that have raised tons of donations off the pledge to fight to repeal ObamaCare bear part of the blame as well. These same groups consistently trashed Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary. They were holding out for a perfect bill which had no chance of being signed into law. Pres. Trump even met with leadership of these groups in the Oval Office in an attempt to bring them on board with the bill. They sent out emails urging activists to oppose the plan – even when substantial changes were made to the bill. The groups still fought the bill after Trump issued his ultimatum. It was unbelievable that groups that had been constantly beating the drum to repeal/replace ObamaCare were willing to walk away like a petulant child, because they didn’t get everything they wanted. If you have sent donations to these groups, you should ask for a full refund .
The final version should have been acceptable to anyone that wanted real solutions, instead of political posturing. #NeverTrump, open borders, Koch Bros. promised Congressmen that they would reward them with funding if they killed Trump’s bill. You can bet they will be also sending money to the groups that helped kill the last chance we had at repealing/replacing ObamaCare.
The Conservative Tree House wrote an article which explains why repealing/replacing ObamaCare was doomed to fail. After this fiasco, I tend to believe them.
NOTE: Please click on the links that are in blue in the article to find out details.