There’s no such thing as a perfect piece of legislation. And for Republicans like Senator Rand Paul (Ky.), that’s been a hard reality to swallow. Like a lot of us, he wants nothing more than to scrap Obamacare completely and start over with a competitive, pro-life, free market system. But unfortunately, that’s no longer an option at this moment for the GOP after a summer of misfires and wasted opportunities. The clock is ticking. And the only thing Republicans have less of than time is voters’ patience. And both demand leaders act now.
In the plan from Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Republicans have a choice. They can vote “yes” and gut a significant portion of Obamacare and Planned Parenthood funding, or they can vote “no” and keep 100 percent of it. Apparently, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) prefers the latter, tweeting that he’s prepared to kill the GOP’s repeal a second time because it isn’t the product of “regular order.” (Neither, conservatives are quick to point out, was Obamacare.) “I think most of us are trying to figure out what the logic is,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said. “We all know that some folks would rather have a bill that’s perfect. But I guess if we can’t have a bill that’s perfect, I’d rather have a bill that’s much better than what [the law] is today.”
And for a lot of Americans, this debate is about a lot more than dollars and cents. It’s about actual human lives, whose fate will literally be decided by what the Senate does in seven days. If the Graham-Cassidy bill fails, so does the GOP’s best shot at defunding Planned Parenthood. At a rally outside Senator Paul’s Kentucky office, Students for Life did their best to drive that urgency home. “The disastrous status quo that is Obamacare is harming families, using our taxpayer dollars to fund abortion and line the pockets of Planned Parenthood’s billion-dollar abortion industry,” said President Kristan Hawkins. Vice President Mike Pence agrees. “The president and I consider Senator Paul a friend,” he made clear. “He’s a good man, but he’s wrong about this.” And unless he changes his mind, thousands of future Americans will pay the price.
Meanwhile, in pockets across the country, the Left’s opposition “is again reaching jet-aircraft decibels of outrage,” the Wall Street Journal jokes. Armed with the usual misinformation, liberals are taking to the airwaves and social media to bash the effort, which they claim would leave 18 million uninsured. (Of course, they neglect to mention that at least half of those would be willfully uninsured after the bill scraps Obama’s individual mandate.)
Liberals are also making a big deal about voting on a bill without a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score. But what good was a CBO score for Obamacare? If you want a good laugh, read its prediction for the 2009 law – which, among other things, claimed Obamacare would reduce the U.S. deficit. Besides, “CBO forecasts are often wrong,” the Wall Street Journal editors point out. “In this case, they’d also be meaningless. The point of Graham-Cassidy is to allow states to experiment and tailor approaches to local populations. Some might try to expand Medicaid’s reach or even go single-payer. Others might tinker with reinsurance. The budget office can’t possibly know what 50 states would do or how that would affect coverage.”
While the two sides snipe back and forth, the issue is also starting to bleed into the Alabama Senate primary. Senator Luther Strange and Judge Roy Moore are locked in a heated runoff for Jeff Sessions’s old seat, and health care is front and center. In some press reports, the media is trying to paint Moore as an opponent of the Graham-Cassidy bill. But that’s absolutely not true. I spoke with him last night, and although he would prefer a full repeal of Obamacare, he sees the importance of in ending the forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood. As far as he’s concerned, the GOP plan is a good first step.
For now, though, the focus will be on the senators who already have a vote. Make sure they cast the right one!
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.
Also in the September 22 Washington Update: