There isn’t an elected Republican in the House of Representatives who didn’t run on repealing Obamacare. Every Republican in the House last year voted in favor of repealing the law, as did every Republican in the Senate. They put that bill on President Barack Obama’s desk, he vetoed it, as they knew he would, and they claimed a moral victory for keeping a campaign promise.
But empty promises are easy to keep; it’s leading that is hard.
Leadership of the principled variety was lacking in government this week at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan were so interested in passing something on the issue of health care they were willing to support anything. Arms were twisted, deals were cut, and nothing was done.
Missing from the discussions and debate was the Constitution and the fact the federal government has no business being involved in health insurance in the first place.
Obamacare is a disaster. It harms far more people than it helps. It jacks up premiums and deductibles so high you’d have to be run over by a steamroller twice to reach your out-of-pocket maximum. Unless, of course, you’re already getting subsidies to pay your premiums. In that case, you don’t care; you’re already addicted to the heroin of “free stuff” from Washington.
Both the subsidized and non-subsidized need help.
The poor unsubsidized souls need relief from being mandated to buy worthless “insurance” so others can pay less than their age and risk otherwise would mandate. Those on the government teat simply don’t care.
This is but one of the many bad things that happen when the government bastardizes a market – and make no mistake, government involvement bastardizes any market.
Democrats believed they could control the market through regulations, taxes and mandates. As we suffer through that reality, Republicans didn’t so much propose to strip it away as they did to replace it with their version. A differently bastardized market is still a bastardized market. Better nothing than the something Republican leadership tried to push through.
That Democrats would seek to control people and markets is no surprise – it’s what they do and they’re quite open about it. The Republican Party is supposed to be the opposite – in favor of free markets and advocates for individual liberty. On paper, at least.
For seven years we heard how they’d repeal Obamacare just as soon as they had the ability to do so. They now do, but they didn’t because they couldn’t agree about what to replace it with. How about replacing it with what the Constitution allows for: nothing.
The reality is most Republicans are conservatives only when it comes time for elections. Their rhetoric of “repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a free market solution” was really just replacing one federally managed monstrosity with another. Sure, it might be smaller, but the concept remained – Washington is in charge.
Replacing a bad idea with a slightly less bad idea is a step in the right direction on a technical level, but it’s still a bad idea in reality.
After years of proclaiming Obamacare violated the Constitution, Republicans accepted the concept when they tried to manufacture their own version of a top-down system. Government control is government control, even if you dial back the degree of that control.
By trying to manufacture a “freer” and “smaller” government-administered health law, Republican leadership ceded the concept of government interference and control over health insurance in the country. Even if they’d been successful, Democrats would need only to tweak what they’d left in place to regain more control, either through legislation or the regulatory leviathan created.
Limited government is not a reduced version of big government with lesser tentacles creeping ever further into our lives. Yet that’s what Republicans all too often offer when they get their hands on the levers of power.
Republicans need to keep their word and repeal all of Obamacare and, while they’re at it, remove the other barriers government has erected to creating a nationwide health insurance market. States would be free to band together and deregulate to create large markets or become islands of regulation unto themselves, as it should be.
The federal government should not be in the health insurance business, either directly or indirectly through subsidies. Congress needs to extend the same tax advantages found in the employer market to those in the individual market, then get the hell out of the way.
End subsidies and refundable tax credits, wean government assistance addicts off their heroin and allow personal responsibility to re-establish itself in those dependent on other people’s money. If a state wants to spend money that way, fine; but it’s no place for the federal government.
When Obamacare passed, many Democrats knew they were committing political suicide. They did it anyway because they believed in what they were doing. Republicans need that same resolve.
It’s doubtful the blowback would be as severe as the 2010 election for those who ran on repeal and as conservatives. But some would lose. So what? They stand a better chance of losing their jobs for not doing what they promised than if they did.
Public servants afraid to stand up for what they believe in because they’re afraid to lose their next election are unworthy of elected office in the first place.
It’s time for Republicans to put up or shut up. When you have power, the only thing keeping you from doing the right thing is the will. Far too few Republicans have the courage of the convictions on which they ran. No seat in Congress belongs to anyone currently occupying it, and conviction-less cowards should have their offices pulled out from under them if they fail to live up to their word.