Democrats Used Reconciliation to Pass Obamacare. We Should Do the Same to Repeal It
by MIKE LEE & MARK WALKER September 30, 2015 3:43 PM
Patient costs are up. Access to doctors is down. Co-ops are going bankrupt, and insurance companies have already asked Uncle Sam for a taxpayer-funded bailout.
Five years have passed since former speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) infamously admitted, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” Americans now know what was hiding in Obamacare. And they don’t like it.
That’s why it is more important than ever for Republicans in Congress to honor the promises we have made to the American people and finally send an Obamacare-repeal bill to the president’s desk. We can do this, before the end of the year, through a procedure known as “budget reconciliation.”
Normally it takes 60 votes to move legislation in the Senate. But a reconciliation bill is considered “privileged,” so it can pass the Senate by a simple majority vote as long as it contains “policies affecting mainly permanent spending and revenue programs.”
Congressional Democrats used this very mechanism to force Obamacare through Congress on a party-line vote, to the president’s desk, and onto the backs of hard-working American families and businesses.
Now that the effects of Obamacare have begun to sink in, we’ve seen rapid consolidation among health-care providers and insurance companies. Out-of-pocket health-care costs have skyrocketed. Medicaid patients are having much more trouble finding doctors. And millions have been kicked off their health-insurance plans or had their health care disrupted.
Given the disastrous consequences of this deeply flawed law, we believe the American people deserve to have Congress employ budget reconciliation yet again, this time to repeal Obamacare.
President Obama has vowed to veto this legislation, which would put the preservation of his legislative namesake above the needs of hard-working families. But Obama needs to own up and explain to the American people why he insists that rising costs and dwindling access are good for them.
Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress must prove to the American people that repealing Obamacare is one of their top priorities.
As we head into the presidential election, the American people deserve a national debate on this issue. Voters need to know whether or not those who are in elected office — and those running for elected office — are either committed to full repeal or satisfied with the dysfunctional, unaffordable, and unfair status quo.
Earlier this year both of us, along with many of our colleagues, committed to using budget reconciliation to fully repeal Obamacare. Indeed, many Republican representatives and senators supported the budget resolution that Congress passed this spring only because it initiated the process of repealing Obamacare through reconciliation.
But Republican leaders in the House and Senate are now contemplating a reconciliation bill that fails to fully repeal Obamacare. In fact, it repeals only seven of Obamacare’s 419 sections. They also claim that the bill will defund Planned Parenthood — a worthy goal — but it’s not yet clear whether Senate rules will allow the defund–Planned Parenthood provision to be included in a reconciliation bill.
We support the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the strengthening of other measures to protect the dignity of human life at all stages of development, but we must not let this keep us from fulfilling our promise to fully repeal Obamacare.
It’s possible that some Obamacare provisions might not be subject to repeal in the reconciliation process. But Republicans promised the American people — and Republican leaders promised rank-and-file lawmakers — that they would use every tool at their disposal to repeal as much of Obamacare as possible, and the simple-majority process of reconciliation furthers this goal.
In the end, President Obama might veto the repeal. But forcing him to do so would be an important part of the ongoing debate about reforming a health-care system that Obamacare has only made worse.
Next year, the Republican presidential nominee will run on a platform of repealing Obamacare and starting over with patient-centered, market-based reform. And whoever is the Democratic nominee will have a harder time than ever defending the dysfunctional law. In the meantime, though, Congress can’t take the easy road by appeasing a few special interests and leaving the hard choices to someone else. We ran — and we were elected — to help the American people by rescuing them from Obamacare.
It’s time that Republicans in the House and Senate honor this promise we all made to the American people. It’s time to pass a reconciliation bill that fully repeals Obamacare.
Originally published via National Review