The following was contained in an email from Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX District 1)to his constituents:
Republicans have been promising to repeal Obamacare for seven years now. Some of us have proposed bills that had good provisions that would repeal Obamacare. In fact, we voted on a bill that would have been more of a repeal than this one through the House and Senate last year and put it on then-President Obama’s desk for signature. He vetoed the bill. But let’s be clear: the bill last week was NOT a repeal. It was NOT a replacement. It was an Obamacare tweak giving additional power to the federal government in hopes that our Republican Health and Human Services Secretary could make good changes.
Most east Texans are not in favor of giving the federal government MORE power to solve the problem of the federal government having too much power over our health care. If a true history of the rise and demise of the greatest, freest country in history is written, a chapter will detail how decade after decade, good ol’ go along folks kept providing more and more authority to the federal government rather than reining it in. But we still have a window to stem the tide and get back on track.
In closed meetings we were assured, if we will just give my friend Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price this extra power, he can weaken Obamacare substantially, though he could not repeal it administratively. However, no one could give an adequate answer regarding all that additional power in the hands of the next liberal Democrat who will one day take the reins at that behemoth department. The answer is obvious: the next liberal Secretary of HHS would bring back Obamacare with gusto, never to be repealed until it does its job—to hand over full control of your health care decisions to the government, paid for by crushing tax burdens.
There were a myriad of reasons to vote against Speaker Ryan’s rejected bill. It would hit people between the ages of 50-64 with additional costs for premiums and deductibles—in addition to what Obamacare does now. In addition to the original $716 Billion that Obamacare cut from Medicare, this bill was going to hit our seniors yet again.
Most troublesome to me was that in our own Republican meetings we heard from experts who believed that this bill would not bring premiums, deductibles or co-pays down at all and they would most likely be increasing for the next two years, though there was hope costs MIGHT come down 10% three years from now.
From what I hear from my constituents in east Texas, they are really overwhelmed with health insurance and healthcare costs. They need help, and they cannot afford to wait three years. They need help now.
Some of us were exceeding concerned about a new “tax credit” entitlement scheme that did not require proof of citizenship, not even legality, before the U.S. Treasury sends a check. This entitlement was another transfer of wealth from those who work hard and pay taxes to those not legally present in this country.
The bill also assured that nearly 1% of your hard-earned money would be paid for a Medicare tax to be sucked out of your paycheck that already has a tax of 2.9%, half paid by you and half by your employer.
To help east Texans with the higher premiums this bill would bring, my Freedom Caucus friends and I twice agreed to vote FOR the bad bill, if the Speaker would take out a few of the requirements that were going to increase premiums. We were convinced by knowledgeable analysts that removing these provisions would drive premiums down.
Please understand, we agreed to let the “pre-existing condition” provision in Obamacare remain, though some falsely reported that we refused. We agreed to let children stay on their parents’ plans up to age 26, though I would agree to a higher age or no age limit if you are still living with your parents.
There were numerous other provisions that caused some heartburn, such as giving authority to HHA to create, for the first time ever, FEDERAL high risk insurance pools at the cost of billions of new dollars. We were told not to be alarmed, and that the hope was to eventually devolve that responsibility back to the states. As President Reagan warned, however, the closest thing to eternal life in this world is a new federal program.
Even though I was called an uncompromising “purist,” I was willing to compromise significantly if we could just get the premium costs down for my constituents.
People should also be aware that if the vote had been taken, there would have been as many moderate Republicans voting “No,” which some believe is why the vote was pulled in the first place. Republican leaders would not have been able to lay blame unfairly on conservatives when it was clear within our conference that at least as many moderates were concerned about the bill as conservatives.
The House Freedom Caucus reached an agreement to vote for the bill twice with President Trump, only to have Reince Priebus or Speaker Ryan notify us that such a compromise could not be put in the bill because, they told us, it would risk violating the budget reconciliation rules in the Senate and kill the bill.
Repeatedly we were told by our Republican leadership that the Senate Parliamentarian could not tell us in advance how she would “rule” on whether we could include our requested language in the bill without killing the bill. Late last week, we learned that the reason they could not find out was because they simply had not asked her, as Senator Mike Lee reported.
Yet the whole truth of the matter is that the Parliamentarian never “rules” on anything. She or he may only whisper a recommendation into the ear of the Senate President, either Vice-President Mike Pence or a designee of the Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who sits in the chair with the gavel on the Senate floor. It is the President of the Senate who “rules” on admissibility, not the Parliamentarian. And if 51 Republican Senators support the ruling of the presiding officer, his or her ruling stands untouchable.
This letter offers just a glimpse of the many reasons that the last two weeks played out as they did. It is very disappointing that despite the several compromises that were offered by conservative members, we still were not near fulfillment of our promise to truly and completely repeal Obamacare. That is a promise I did not make lightly, and I will continue the fight to honor my pledge to my constituents and the American people by working aggressively to make sure we get a good bill, get it passed, and signed into law.
Congressman Louie Gohmert
First District of Texas