After eight years of promises and countless rallies and fundraising letters, Republicans failed in their foremost mission of repealing and replacing Obamacare. Instead of collaborating with Republican congressional colleagues to achieve a healthcare bill with consensus support, House GOP leadership worked behind closed doors to craft an unpopular piece of legislation that was supported by only 17% of the American people.
When the bill was unable to achieve the needed 216 votes, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill after consulting with President Trump. Immediately thereafter, the President blamed Democrats for their united opposition to the bill. Democrats know how disastrous Obamacare has been to millions of Americans, but were unwilling to work with the GOP leadership and President Trump on a replacement plan.
Instead they were united in voting against the American Health Care Act (AHCA), otherwise known as “Ryancare.” The only alternative offered by Democrats was to patch together a “fix” of Obamacare. This is directly counter to what President Trump and almost every Republican congressional candidate promised in 2016 campaign.
Obviously, the President will not get anywhere trying to deal with a party that is working overtime to thwart his reform agenda. Liberal firebrand Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) has already called for the President’s impeachment. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) recently said the President has “done nothing” since taking office and has labeled Trump the “deflector in chief” for not answering enough questions about his supposed connection to Russia.
With Democrats incensed that Donald Trump won the election and trying to undermine him at every turn, it was indeed curious to notice overtures to the Democrats in recent days from both the President and Sean Spicer, his Press Secretary. On Monday, Spicer said that the President was “absolutely” serious about working with Democrats on a new healthcare bill. Nevertheless, such collaboration is impossible for the Democrats want to mend Obamacare and the President wants to end it.
This well publicized outreach to the Democrats is just a presidential ploy. Donald Trump is the master negotiator and his offer is pure posturing. The author of The Art of the Deal is really trying to bring over Republicans to support a healthcare bill by threatening to work with Democrats.
Donald Trump knows that if he compromises his principles and betrays his campaign promises to complete a deal with the Democrats he will suffer the same fate as former President George H. W. Bush. In his 1988 presidential campaign, Bush promised “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Unfortunately, after winning the presidency, Bush broke his pledge and worked with Democrats on a tax increase. In the next election, the voters abandoned Bush and he lost his re-election bid to a previously unknown huckster, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.
In the 2016 campaign, Trump was adamant that Obamacare must be repealed and replaced. He clearly realizes that Democrats do not share his goals or outlook on not only Obamacare, but also on almost every major problem facing the nation.
This week, the President also criticized the Freedom Caucus for their opposition to the AHCA; however, this was also a negotiating tactic. He knows the Freedom Caucus is his true ally and among his strongest supporters, but he is using his bully pulpit to whip the GOP together to save this issue for his party.
The good news is that the Republican Party is not that far apart on the issue. Freedom Caucus Chairman Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) said that if the GOP leadership will consent to eliminate just two more of the 12 Obamacare mandates, the “vast majority” of his membership will agree to the AHCA.
With the two groups, so close to an agreement, the President and the Speaker should convene a Republican congressional meeting to forge a final consensus bill. It is crucial that this issue be addressed for without an Obamacare replacement, Republicans cannot move on to tax reform or the other major agenda items. If they fail on this issue, they will lose seats in the mid-term election and it will torpedo the President’s re-election chances in 2020.
Obamacare is imploding with premiums continuing to rise and insurance companies continuing to withdraw from offering coverage in states across the nation.
It is essential that the GOP come back together and revisit the healthcare issue as soon as possible. The stakes are very high, not only for the American people, but also for the future of the Republican Party.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].