On Monday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced war on conservatives. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said that Republicans would proposed a new draft of Trumpcare – the supposed Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill – for a planned vote next week. “We’re just trying to get a good picture of what the alternatives are, and hopefully next week we’ll be prepared to take the bill up and vote on it,” Cornyn said.
The bill purportedly under consideration would constitute an ultimate betrayal of Congressional conservatives; it would strip out proposed language strengthening market options, the proposed Cruz-Lee Consumer Freedom Amendment. That amendment would have allowed insurance companies to offer insurance plans free of Obamacare’s regulations so long as they also offered another plan that would meet the regulations. That would grant insurance companies the ability to compete with one another and offer narrower and more inexpensive plans. But Senate Republican moderates apparently oppose that amendment on the grounds that it would allow healthy young people the option to buy insurance better tailored to their needs, thereby taking them out of the Obamacare-regulated plans – and driving up costs for those remaining.
According to Politico, McConnell hasn’t even had the good grace to send a full plan for consideration to other Republicans – he plans to ram through a version of the bill he has not yet distributed. McConnell is reportedly looking for other payoffs he can offer to Cruz and Lee to buy their support, since if McConnell loses them as well as Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), the legislation is effectively dead.
Once again, conservatives have been shafted. They were promised Obamacare repeal for 7 years; now they’ve been told that those promises were to be taken seriously but not literally. Instead, Republicans plan to pass Obamacare-lite, with the only serious upside being the restructuring of Medicaid. McConnell, with President Trump’s support, will presumably attempt to cram down such legislation on Senate conservatives, threatening them with the prospect of “responsibility” for Obamacare’s survival. But the plan McConnell is pushing merely preserves Obamacare under the Republican banner. It’s a fib to Republican voters and it’s a slap at conservatives. But we would expect nothing less from the very establishment that refused to defund Obamacare repeatedly in the Senate under President Obama’s watch.