American conservative leaders welcomed President Donald Trump’s tweet suggesting to Republicans that they immediately repeal Obamacare first and then work together to replace it later.
On a media conference call Friday morning, national conservative group leaders overwhelmingly applauded Trump’s suggestion and rebuked GOP leaders for introducing Obamacare “replacement” legislation that they say simply continues former President Barack Obama’s disastrous healthcare reform. The leaders made clear to Republicans that they hold power in both chambers of Congress largely because the conservative base elected them to repeal Obamacare and put GOP leaders on notice that their draft healthcare bill is costing them their base.
“This draft bill was not what was promised to voters when Republicans were pushed to the majority – it’s not even close,” David Bozell, president of For America, said about the recent Senate version of the GOP healthcare bill. “It’s a liberal piece of legislation that has been met with record low levels of support. This bill enjoys support in the teens, meaning Republicans have lost their base with this bill.”
“Tasked with honoring a promise seven years in the making, Republicans have instead put its caucus in a very dangerous bind headed into the 2018 midterms,” Bozell added.
Bozell and other leaders also applauded the recommendations put forth by Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Rand Paul (KY), Mike Lee (UT), and Ben Sasse (NE).
“You know Sens. Cruz, Lee, and Paul are on the right track when you see the reaction to today’s development involving Sen. Sasse’s proposal and President Trump’s subsequent tweet,” Bozell continued. “The early reaction from grassroots activists around the country for repealing now and replacing in a couple of weeks is one of enthusiastic support.”
Cruz’s proposal would allow health insurers to sell plans that do not comply with all of Obamacare’s regulations. The senator says that selling plans that do not adhere to all of the Obamacare insurance regulations would allow Americans to opt for more flexible and affordable healthcare plans.
Nevertheless, as the Wall Street Journal reported, in a letter to the White House, Sasse said, “On the current path it looks like Republicans will either fail to pass any meaningful bill at all, or will instead pass a bill that looks to prop up many of the crumbling Obama care structures.”
“We must keep our word,” the senator added. “Therefore, if on July 10 we don’t have agreement on a combined repeal and replace plan, we should immediately vote again on H.R. 3762, the December 2015 Obamacare repeal legislation that the Congress passed but President Obama vetoed.”
Trump subsequently tweeted:
If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017
“Our current situation with Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act is unsustainable,” said Jim DeMint, former U.S. senator and now senior adviser to the Convention of States. During the press call, DeMint described how Obamacare’s push to enroll millions more Americans onto Medicaid has left many of them with an insurance card but no actual access to health care.
“Those who do have private insurance have very, very high deductibles, which means, in effect, they don’t have any insurance,” DeMint continued. “Under the current situation, the private health insurance market will probably not exist in five years.”
The former senator said the current GOP Senate bill does not repeal Obamacare but just “tweaks around the edges.”
“What Sen. Cruz and his allies would allow in his amendment would allow a private market to co-exist with a heavily regulated and subsidized federal insurance market,” he said. “This is not ideal by any means, but it would, perhaps, allow innovation, lower costs, a variety of product offerings to exist in many states.”
Nevertheless, DeMint – like many of the leaders – said the best thing for Republicans to do is what they promised their conservative base on many occasions:
The best solution has been all along is for the Republicans to do not only what they said, but what they passed when Obama was still in office. They passed a repeal bill, using reconciliation – the House and the Senate, and they sent it to Obama. This would get repeal done, and allow the Democrats and Republicans to work together on improving our healthcare system. I still think it’s the best option, but, short of that, Sens. Cruz, Paul, and Lee give us the best opportunity to actually keep a private health insurance market in existence in this environment.
Jenny Beth Martin, president and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said the base of the GOP expects Republicans to fully repeal Obamacare.
“The current Senate healthcare bill does not repeal Obamacare,” she said. “It’s not what voters expected when they gave Republicans the majority in the Senate. The regulations are the heart and soul of Obamacare, and these are not addressed in the Senate bill.”
Martin said Cruz’s amendment is “encouraging,” to maintain a private insurance market, but ultimately urges a full repeal of Obamacare.
Andy Roth, vice president of government affairs of Club for Growth, said the “most underreported story” during the Obamacare replacement controversy is that “moderate Republicans are very supportive of keeping in place large parts of Obamacare.”
Roth criticized GOP Senate leaders for protecting moderates by hiding behind the parliamentarian and claiming that individual is preventing them from fully repealing Obamacare. He said moderate Republicans have been telling voters they want to repeal Obamacare when they actually intend to keep it in place.
“The Club for Growth strongly believes that we should put a full repeal bill, including all the regulations on the Senate floor, and have that debate,” he stated. “And if Republican moderates want to oppose full repeal, then they need to answer to the voters with their vote, and not behind leadership protecting them.”
Roth said his group likes Trump’s suggestion to repeal Obamacare now and replace it later but has some concerns.
“We do not want to do partial repeal now, leave the regs in place, and then allow moderates and Democrats to conspire to pass a replacement,” he said. “So, if we’re going to do full repeal, it’s got to be the entire Obamacare bill, including the regs, including the taxes, including the subsidies. All of it needs to go.”
Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said he was happy to see Trump’s tweet suggesting Obamacare be repealed now.
“It’s good to see the president joining with us in terms of full repeal effort,” he said, adding:
It’s distressing to see so many Republicans who have lied about their commitment to repeal. Mitch McConnell wants to amend Obamacare. The Republican base, including conservatives, libertarians, Tea Party people, and traditional Republicans – all want repeal – they want what was promised.
Cuccinelli said it is time to “restore the rule of law by undoing this abomination that is known as Obamacare, and finally and completely get to a debate about real, free-market health care.”
“That’s not what Mitch McConnell wants, but that’s what he promised,” he added.