Resistance Works! Keep It Up!
Trump and the GOP pushed very hard to hold an up or down vote on Trump Care on the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) passage. That seven year anniversary is also important because it marks the day that just about every prominent Republican made a ridiculous, apocalyptic prediction of doom about the ACA’s impact on America. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) said: “You’re going to die soon.” Right wing entertainer Glenn Beck prognosticated: “This is the end of prosperity in America forever.” John Boehner infamously stated that: “Passage of health reform is Armageddon because the law will ruin our country.” Approximately three years later when he launched his Senate campaign, Ben Sasse foolishly predicted: “If the Affordable Care Act survives, America will cease to exist.”
As we have grown to expect, all of the Republican predictions of disaster were proven wrong. Since the ACA has been implemented, 20 million formerly uninsured Americans now have insurance. The uninsured rate has been reduced from 18% to a record low of 8.6%. Lifetime limits in policies have been abolished and insurance companies can no longer discriminate against the sick and the injured.
One of the many erroneous arguments the Republicans made about the ACA was that it would be a “job killer.” Once again, the GOP predictions of some kind of “Armageddon” were embarrassingly wrong. (Why do they have any credibility?) Since the passage of the ACA in 2010, the economy has added jobs every month. As a matter of fact, the economy has added more jobs every month for a record 77 months in a row.
Despite the obvious success of the ACA, every Republican elected official and candidate has pledged to repeal and replace this landmark health care law since it’s passage. Beginning as early as the spring of 2009, the GOP made over 20 promises to come up with a consensus replacement plan and hold a vote on it. For example, on June 17, 2009, then-Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) promised that: “I guarantee you we will provide you with a bill.” Subsequently, on October 27, 2009, then-Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters that the official Republican version of Obama Care was just “weeks away.” Even though prominent Republicans made these bold promises, the GOP still didn’t have an ACA replacement plan over four years later which prompted Cantor to make another promise on January 30, 2014: “ This year, we will rally around an alternative to Obama Care and pass it on the floor of the House.”
At the same time, the GOP made grandiose promises about this non-existent replacement plan. Trump promised that: “Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say, because a lot of times they say, ‘No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private.’ But I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not.” In addition, Trump also pledged not to cut Medicare and Medicaid. And just before the election last year, Trump promised: “We’re going to have great health care at a fraction of the cost, and you watch. It’ll happen.” Not to be left out, Jeff Fortenberry pledged that “ no one gets left behind” in the process of repealing and replacing the ACA.
As it turned out, the long awaited GOP replacement plan landed with a big thud a mere three weeks ago. The gap between the GOP’s health care promises and Trump Care was staggering. Under Trump Care, 24 million people would lose coverage and premiums would soar for millions of Americans. Nebraska would have been especially hard hit by Trump Care. The right wing Wall Street Journal reported that: “In Nebraska’s Chase County, a 62-year-old currently earning about $18,000 a year could pay nearly $20,000 annually to get health-insurance coverage under the House GOP plan — compared with about $760 a year that person would owe toward premiums under the ACA.” Finally, Trump Care would have financed a $600 billion tax cut for the rich by taking away insurance from these 24 million people insured under the ACA.
Despite these awful features of Trump Care, all three Nebraska House Republicans came out in favor of this legislation. Don Bacon and Adrian Smith were some of the earliest supporters of Trump Care. Bacon doubled down on his support of Trump Care after he left a meeting of the GOP House caucus by stating that: “I’ve changed my vote, from ‘yes’ to ‘hell, yes.’ ” Jeff Fortenberry did his usual faux moderate act and pretended to be conflicted on whether or not to support Trump Care. However, in an interview on CNN, Fortenberry came out in favor of the bill and said his “inclination” to support Trump Care was “strong.”
When Bacon said “hell yes” to kicking millions off insurance to finance a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, he committed a huge political blunder. It was just as bad as when Lee Terry said “Dang Straight” he was going to keep his Congressional paycheck during the government shutdown of 2013. Bacon won his Congressional seat last year by 1 percentage point in an election cycle that ended up favoring the GOP. The election cycle in 2018 will be much more difficult for the GOP.
The demise of the GOP’s signature promise to repeal and replace Obama Care shows that Trump and the GOP aren’t ready for prime time. This is a party that is simply incapable of governing. As one GOP aide on Capitol Hill said: “I’m starting to think that while we’re pretty good at winning elections, we’re not great at the whole governing thing”
The survival of the ACA also proves that resistance works. Several Republican members of Congress cited the resistance to the repeal of the ACA as one of the reasons for the demise of Trump Care. Moreover, most of the GOP House members in swing districts — with the exception of Bacon — opposed Trump Care. As Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said: “I thought this repeal bill would sail through. It was the president’s number one priority. And what was incredible about this process was the phone calls — we had 1,959 phone calls in opposition to the American Health Care Act. We had 30 for it.”
What this all means is that resistance works. Thanks to your hard work, Trump Care was stopped and the GOP suffered a humiliating defeat. It was also a big victory for the American people. Be proud that you saved health care for 24 million people and prevented a humanitarian catastrophe.
Enjoy this victory today but be ready to fight again tomorrow. We are just getting started. The next item on the GOP’s radical agenda will be a huge deficit financed tax cut for the wealthy. In January, the Republicans in Congress cleared the room for this tax cut by adding nearly $10 trillion to the national debt. The Trump tax cut provides 50% of the benefits for the top 1% of earners in America. Be ready to take to the streets again and make numerous phone calls to stop this destructive legislation.
And we also must turn out and vote in the city elections in Omaha and Lincoln this spring. The primary election date in Lincoln and Omaha is April 4. The general election date for Lincoln is May 2 and May 9 for Omaha. We must turn out and vote to send a message that we won’t tolerate the agenda of the radical right. Victories in these elections would send a strong message and set us up for a big victory in 2018. We can do this! Let’s get it done!