UPDATE: Congressional Republicans have passed legislation to repeal Obamacare for the first time:
President Obama will veto the measure, but the symbolism -- this can be done with a Republican president -- is significant. A major campaign promise kept.
Later today, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is expected to pass legislation that emerged last month from the Republican-held Senate, which employed the budgetary maneuver known as "reconciliation" to bypass a Democratic filibuster. The bill, which is destined for an Obama veto, would gut Obamacare of many of its most harmful mandates, taxes and expenditures. Conservatives have cheered this development as a fulfillment of a core GOP campaign promise, and a substantive improvement over the original House-passed version (which I defended here), thanks to the efforts of Senators like Mike Lee, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price hailed Republicans' work on this front on Fox News:
The legislation would also significantly reduce taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, redirecting those dollars to other women's health clinics and organizations that aren't languishing under an ethical cloud amid credible allegations of criminality. (When poll question wording includes the important point that no women's health funding is actually being cut, a majority of Americans support the move). A recent undercover journalistic investigation exposed the abortion giant's grisly practice of harvesting and selling body parts from late-term fetuses. The videos show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the profits associated with this endeavor, as well as altering abortion procedures in order to obtain more intact organs -- both of which are illegal. A whistleblower also alleged that aborted children were picked apart and sold without their mother's consent, another violation of the law. Separately, Planned Parenthood has come under fire for its active promotion among young people of the notion that an individual's 'right' to sexual pleasure supersedes his or her obligation to inform a partner of an HIV-positive status. Republicans argue that taxpayers should not subsidize an organization that engages in these horrific abortion-related activities, and that pushes breathtakingly dangerous sexual ethics.
On Obamacare, the GOP says it is keeping its word to voters and fighting on behalf of the majority of Americans who continue to oppose the failing law. A recent Gallup survey showed that uninsured Americans -- who still number in the tens of millions -- are most likely to disapprove of the so-called "Affordable" Care Act, largely because they can't afford it. The law has broken most of the biggest promises upon which it was sold, is actively harming real people, and is hurting the US economy, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office -- which has also just concluded that repealing the law would substantially reduce deficits:
“CBO: ObamaCare repeal bill would reduce deficits by half a trillion dollars over 10 years” https://t.co/yqazRptz23— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) January 5, 2016
The New York Times reported this week that many Americans have run the math and determined that paying Obamacare's individual mandate tax is more affordable than paying through the nose for costly coverage that doesn't even kick in until after consumers fork over thousands in out-of-pocket costs. Meanwhile, a recent survey finds that more than one-quarter of American households have struggled to pay medical bills over the past 12 months, several years into the full implementation of the "Affordable" Care Act. Among this group, a majority was insured:
Kaiser/NYT: 62% of people who can't afford to pay their medical bills are insured. pic.twitter.com/xVjqwlFjRS— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) January 5, 2016
For the umpteenth time, coverage does not equal care -- and being insured to does not mean your healthcare-related financial hardships disappear. Indeed, under Obamacare, expensive compulsory coverage may very well exacerbate affordability woes. Parting thought: Of the many worthy provisions in the soon-to-be-vetoed repeal legislation (exhibit A in the case for electing a Republican president), only one element will actually be the law of the land in 2016. One of the bright spots of December's ugly omnibus spending bill was an extension of the 2015 rollback of funding Obamacare bailout-style programs, which were designed to hide the true costs of the law for several years by defraying insurer losses with huge sums of taxpayer money. This successful push to protect taxpayers and force policy transparency, spearheaded by Marco Rubio, constitutes a rare Obamacare win for conservatives. I'll leave you with fiscal hawk economist Veronique De Rugy giving a thumbs-down to the Republican Congress' 2015 performance, and Paul Ryan's preview of a fresh start in this election year: