Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) joked that “you might be asking the wrong guy” when SiriusXM host Alex Marlow asked him to explain the House Obamacare bill on Wednesday’s Breitbart News Daily.
“This bill would replace the subsidies, penalties, and mandates of Obamacare with subsidies, penalties, and mandates of what we’re calling ‘Obamacare-lite,’” said Massie, who is obviously not a supporter of the bill.
“Frankly, the number of calls to my office – and we only keep track of the constituents who call, in other words, those who are among the 750,000 people I represent – the calls are running 275 against this bill to 4 supporting the bill,” he revealed. “That’s like almost 100 to 1 against this bill. And I can tell you, every other congressional office is receiving the same number of calls.”
“Now, half of these people that are calling want to keep Obamacare, and the other half want a full repeal, but nobody’s happy with this bill,” he continued.
“Why did they rush this out there right now? Why did we have to discuss this two months into this administration?” Marlow asked of the hastily prepared replacement bill.
“Look, there’s two things going on Capitol Hill today,” Massie replied. “There’s Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing, and then there’s this Obamacare-lite. Trump came to sell this bill to us, but it’s not his bill. Look at the two examples of how things turned out for Trump. In one case, he went to Heritage and the Federalist Society and said, ‘Give me some good nominees.’ In the other case, he went to Paul Ryan and the lobbyists and said, ‘What kind of bill do you want?’ You can see the kind of reaction he’s getting. Hopefully, this will be informative to him on where he should go for conservative advice.”
Massie said he could confirm the vote count offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has predicted the bill will be pulled and extensively rewritten.
“I have personally spoken to 29 colleagues here, conservative colleagues who oppose the bill as of yesterday evening. That’s not counting the moderates, and there are at least six of those on the record in the news. So there are three dozen against this bill,” he said.
“What are the people saying that are for this on Capitol Hill? Well, they’re trying to tell us it’s a binary decision, that you can either take it or leave it,” Massie said of the bill’s proponents. “We think the negotiation starts when one party says ‘no.’ That’s why we’re going to say no.”
“They’re saying it’s better than nothing. It’s better than leaving Obamacare in place. That in itself is false,” he contended. “If you keep the mandate on insurance companies, that they have to charge everybody the same price whether they’re healthy or not, and then get rid of the individual mandate – I’m no fan of the individual mandate, but those two things go together. Republicans are trying to keep one of them and do away with the other, and this thing is going to fail miserably.”
“Prices are going to go through the roof. People are going to flee. Healthy people are going to flee the insurance market that’s going to exist after this, and we’re going to get blamed for it. So I’m not going for their argument that this is better than nothing. This is worse than Obamacare, and we’re going to own it. We’re going to own it lock, stock, and barrel,” he predicted.
Massie elaborated that under the House bill, prices would go up faster than under Obamacare as it stands, which will “further decimate the market.”
“There’s nothing in this that legalizes affordable insurance,” he complained. “It’s still got the ten mandates on what insurance companies have to cover. That’s going to keep prices high, and it’s still got the pre-existing condition mandate. It’s still got a ratio between young people and older people, like how much more older people can be charged than the younger people, that’s a distortion of the free market. All those things are still in there, and prices are going to go up. This is my prediction.”
“In fact, the Republican version of the individual mandate is a 30 percent penalty if you let your policy lapse in the course of a year. The CBO says that Republican penalty, the 30 percent penalty, will keep two million people from buying insurance,” he elaborated.
“That’s the opposite of an introductory offer. Remember those record deals where you get your first 12 records for a penny? Well, this is the opposite. You’re going to pay $30 apiece for the first 12 albums. That’s going to keep people out of the market. Frankly, Jonathan Gruber is a much better architect of socialized medicine than Republicans are,” Massie said.
“They’re flirting with socialism,” he said of the Republican caucus and White House when Marlow pointed out that original Obamacare architect Ezekiel Emanuel has been involved in crafting the GOP plan and has reportedly met with President Trump himself.
Massie denounced the “false argument” that the flawed Obamacare bill must be passed quickly so the Republicans can move on to tax reform.
“In fact, they’re trying to say you only get like two bites at the apple through reconciliation,” he said. “Go back and look at how they did Obamacare. They did student loans on the same reconciliation bill that they tweaked Obamacare with when they passed Obamacare.”
“There are a lot of false arguments here that are falling flat on their face: the argument that we have a binary choice, the argument that you’ve got to do this if you want to do tax reform. We’re used to being lied to here on the Hill. I don’t think Trump is used to being deceived in this manner, and I think he is being deceived by House leadership – on everything from the ramifications to the cost of health care from this bill to the probability of it passing tomorrow,” he said.
Marlow asked Massie to talk about his own legislative crusade to abolish the Department of Education.
“When Betsy DeVos was up for her confirmation, I was receiving dozens of calls. People wanted me to stop her, and I said that vote happens in the Senate, not in the House. I don’t actually have a vote,” he recalled. “They said, ‘We know you can do something. Do anything you can in the House.’ So the day they voted on Betsy DeVos, I walked to the floor and introduced a bill that’s only eight words long. It says, ‘The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31st, 2018.’ That’s the whole bill.”
“A lot of liberals are sort of apathetic about the Department of Education, now that it’s not their president, and it’s not their nominee who’s writing these edicts for all of the school systems across the country,” he observed. “I thought it was the perfect time to do it. It’s received a lot of support. I’m up to nine co-sponsors, including Chairman Chaffetz, chairman of the Oversight Committee. I think it’s a great opportunity, and the wonderful thing is now, for the first time since Ronald Reagan, we’ve got a president in the White House who would probably sign this bill if it got to his desk.”
Massie said it was important for listeners to express their support for his effort to their representatives.
“Let me tell you this: phone calls matter,” he said. “I wouldn’t bother writing letters or sending emails or faxes, but whenever you call your congressman – and by the way, it’s got to be your congressman and your two senators – it makes a difference. I’ve been on the floor talking to my colleagues who are undecided about how to vote, and they tell me, ‘Oh, I’ve got this many phone calls or that many phone calls.’ They ask me how many phone calls did I get for or against.”
“So that is the most effective way, I think, to communicate with your congressman, or get on their social media and make a comment – because as a congressman I can tell you we read those comments, whether we respond to them or not,” he advised. “I usually respond, but most congressmen are reading their own Twitter and their own Facebook.”
Massie said he was not one of the Kentucky congressmen chosen to accompany President Trump on his visit to the state Monday. “I tell people I didn’t even get a ticket on Amtrak One, much less Air Force One,” he joked.
“It’s an interesting phenomenon in Kentucky,” he observed. “We’ve got Senator Paul against this bill. I’m against this bill. I can’t speak for our governor, but it’s interesting that he has not come out and publicly supported this bill. We’re one of those Medicaid expansion states where we’ve got to try and get the genie back in the bottle, and the governor is doing a great job working on that, but he’s not going head-over-heels for this bill, even though Trump and Mike Pence have both been to Kentucky.”
“Our senior senator has been silent on this bill, as well,” Massie added, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I think he’s probably one of the smartest of the bunch because he’s not spending any political capital on a bill that’s probably dead on arrival in his chamber.
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