As discussed earlier, the Obamacare repeal and replace effort, derisively called by some either "Obamacare Lite", "RyanCare", "ObamaCare 2.0", and even Trumpcare". is running into major hurdles as prominent consevative groups threaten to derail Trump's broader economic agenda.
While The Trump administration on Tuesday formally backed the House GOP's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, early hurdles emerged after tea partiers Rand Paul and Mike Lee both said that the proposed plan will not pass because it is too similar to the original healthcare law, while GOP senator Roy Blunt said that the plan as it stands may not be able to get the support needed to pass the Senate. "What I don't like is, it may not be a plan that gets a majority votes and let's us move on. Because, we can't stay where we are with the plan we've got now," Blunt said on KMBZ, as first reported by CNN.
The two are just the tip of the iceberg.
As The Hill writes, outside conservative groups on Tuesday blasted House Republicans’ newly unveiled healthcare proposal, saying it doesn’t live up to the GOP’s promise of fully repealing ObamaCare. Here are some of the more prominent objectors:
The Club for Growth dubbed the proposal “RyanCare” and threatened to record names of Republicans who vote for the bill unless it includes significant changes.
Americans for Prosperity/Freedom Partners called the plan "Obamacare 2.0"
The Cato Institute called the plan a "TrainWreck"
Heritage Action, FreedomWorks and the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity, a group aligned with billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, also issued scathing statements highly critical of the "American Health Care Act," which was released on Monday.
FreedomWorks panned the GOP bill as "ObamaCare-Lite," while AFP labeled it "ObamaCare 2.0." “This is simply not a full repeal of ObamaCare. It falls far short of the promises Republicans made to the American people in four consecutive federal elections,” AFP President Tim Phillips said in a phone interview Tuesday. “The proposed legislation trades one form of government subsidy for another government subsidy, and doesn’t roll back the mandate of ObamaCare. It's a poor first attempt.”
In short, conservatives don't like the bill in its current form, and as the Hill puts it, "the seemingly coordinated statements — all released within an hour of each other — from these four big-money, influential conservative groups create a huge headache for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the two authors of the House bill: Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas)."
Assuming all members vote and all Democrats vote no, it would take 22 House GOP defections to kill the bill. Just three Republican votes could sink the legislation in the Senate.
As noted above, two Tea Party darlings, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), have already come out against the GOP plan, as have former House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and conservative Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Dave Brat (R-Va.). As we explained yesterday, many on the right are objecting to the plan’s refundable tax credits, which would replace ObamaCare insurance subsidies.
“If it’s a new federal plan, I do not like it because the federal government has shown itself unable to constrain itself when it comes to fiscal matters,” Brat told The Hill. “As a result, Medicare and Social Security are insolvent and our health system will be next.”
Club for Growth said it will “key vote” the bill, meaning it will include how lawmakers vote on it when calculating grades for members of Congress, and whip votes against the House proposal unless major changes are made.
“The problems with this bill are not just what’s in it, but also what’s missing: namely, the critical free-market solution of selling health insurance across state lines,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a statement. “Such an injection of competition would lead to hundreds of billions of dollars in savings, nullifying any argument by Congressional Republicans that this provision cannot be included in the current bill. “Republicans should be offering a full and immediate repeal of Obamacare’s taxes, regulations, and mandates, an end to the Medicaid expansion, and inclusion of free-market reforms, like interstate competition.”
Meeting a tide of early criticism, the plan's architects were busy defending it starting Tursday morning. Brady, a main architect of the bill, pushed back on the conservative objections at a joint news conference with Walden on Tuesday. Brady said the bill is similar to legislation from then-Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), now secretary of Heath and Human Services, which "had 84 cosponsors including members and leaders of the Freedom Caucus, the RSC and the Republican conference."
"As Republicans we have a choice,” Brady said. “We can act now or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity to repeal ObamaCare and begin a new chapter for the American people.”
For now, at least, it appears that many would prefer to fiddle, even if that means risking alienating some of their core constituents, a point made by the AFP's Phillips who, fresh from an anti-ObamaCare rally by the Capitol, warned that there will be electoral consequences for Republicans if they don’t fully repeal the current health law. He said 88 percent of House Republicans have previously voted for full repeal in the past, as have 97 percent of Senate Republicans.
“This is not a new issue. It’s been out there for eight years and Republicans have been unambiguous about repealing ObamaCare,” Phillips told The Hill. “The American people took their word for it and gave them the largest majority in the House.
‘But this will be shortest-lived majority in the modern era if they fail to fully repeal ObamaCare.”
The vice president himself appeared to lash out at hold outs in the Senate saying "My message to GOP Senate: If you like ObamaCare, you can keep it, but people want change & fact is ObamaCare must go."
My message to GOP Senate: If you like ObamaCare, you can keep it, but people want change & fact is ObamaCare must go. pic.twitter.com/YvQeEV7Kqd
— Vice President Pence (@VP) March 7, 2017
In addition to ripping the House plan, FreedomWorks national director of campaigns, Noah Wall, also called out four GOP senators — Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.V.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — for saying they could not support the House bill because it did not assist people in their states who are covered by ObamaCare’s expanded Medicaid program.
"Sens. Portman, Capito, Gardner, and Murkowski would be in jail with Bernie Madoff if they had orchestrated such a fraud in the private sector. They have scammed the American people,” Wall said in a statement. “They supported a strong repeal bill when they knew President Obama would never sign it, and now they won’t support the same language because President Trump might sign it.”
Meanwhile, the Trump administration formally backed the GOP plan in a letter Tuesday, with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price writing that it would serve as a good first step. "These proposals offer patient-centered solutions that will provide all Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare, promote innovation and offer peace of mind for those with pre-existing conditions," Price wrote.
To sum up, here is a great cheat sheet courtesy of Axios of all those who have so far expressed objection to the plan in its current form.:
- Americans for Prosperity/Freedom Partners: "It is Obamacare 2.0"
- Cato Institute: "This bill is a train wreck waiting to happen."
- Club for Growth: "The problems with this bill are not just what's in it, but also what's missing…"
- FreedomWorks: "This is ObamaCare-lite."
- Heritage Action for America: "That is bad politics and, more importantly, bad policy."
- Republican Study Committee: "This is a Republican welfare entitlement."
- Tea Party Patriots: "The bill that House Republicans released last night does not fully repeal Obamacare."
- Rep. Justin Amash (MI): "Obamacare 2.0"
- Rep. Dave Brat (VA): "Now [they] are saying we're going to do repeal and replace but the bill does nothing of the sort."
- Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Sen. Cory Gardner (CO), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Sen. Rob Portman (OH): "We will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states."
- Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX): "You're creating another entitlement program."
- Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): "This is Obamacare by a different form."
- Sen. Mike Lee (UT): "This is not the Obamacare repeal bill we've been waiting for."
- Gov. Paul LePage (ME): "Right now, I am very, very discouraged and disappointed with what the House Republicans are introducing."
- Rep. Mark Meadows (NC): "If leadership insists on replacing ObamaCare with ObamaCare-lite, no repeal will pass."
- Sen. Rand Paul (KY): "The House leadership plan is Obamacare Lite. It will not pass. Conservatives are not going to take it."
Finally, for those who missed it, here is Goldman Sachs again explaining why any delays in passing the Obamacare alternative plan, will lead to major delays for the rest of Trump's economic agenda:
"the slow process on ACA repeal signals that tax reform is likely to take longer than initially expected and that the final tax legislation that Congress enacts is likely to be less radical than the early proposals from House Republicans and the Trump campaign. That said, while tax legislation looks likely to be delayed we expect it to move forward eventually."
And putting it all together, here is Goldman's chart showing "the long year ahead" and where we are right now.