‘Tuesday Group’ turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare
Congressional leaders returned home this week to spend two weeks on recess, meeting with constituents and supporters in their districts. For Republicans, the break could not come at a better time. After a staggering failure to come together to repeal and replace ObamaCare, the GOP needs some time to regroup and reconsider their approach.
As they do so, they must take the time to hear to their constituents. Conservatives across America voted Republicans into control of the House in 2011, the Senate in 2014, and the White House in 2016 based on repeated promises to repeal ObamaCare. The American Health Care Act, designed by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), failed to keep these promises by failing to repeal ObamaCare wholesale and keeping the main cost-drivers in ObamaCare — its Title I provisions.
Title I provisions, which include the mandate for community rating and the essential health benefits, comprise the central regulatory structure of ObamaCare. According to the Heritage Foundation, the provisions account for 44 to 68 percent of ObamaCare’s health insurance premium increases — increases that prompted millions of frustrated voters to cast their ballots for the GOP.
One reason Paul Ryan backed away from what he called a “clear path” to repealing ObamaCare was that moderates like Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who lead what is known as the “Tuesday Group,” were poised to fight to retain the ObamaCare’s Title I provisions. The Tuesday Group wants to keep what Americans asked them to cut — a total breach of trust and twisting of the democratic process.
Such accusations might sound excessive, but they’re not. We know House Republicans can get the job done and repeal ObamaCare because we’ve seen them do it multiple times. Almost immediately after retaking the House in 2011, Republicans banded together and voted for the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” The bill was a full repeal of ObamaCare that wiped out Title I and had the support of every single House Republican, from Tuesday Group-style moderates to Freedom Caucus conservatives.
When the legislation failed to pass in Harry Reid’s Senate, Republicans were unfazed and went on to pass two more bills that defunded ObamaCare without repealing it that same year. The following year, then-Speaker John Boehner successfully spearheaded another attempt to pass a full repeal in the House with the full support of the House. In 2013, we saw the passage of both a repeal bill and a defund bill. (The latter legislation was later modified so it did not defund ObamaCare, but it passed with a 230-189 vote in its original form.)
After Republicans took back the Senate in January 2015, another repeal passed in the House. This showed the country that House Republicans are capable of making good on their promises if they want to do so. What happened to Paul Ryan’s “clear path to repealing ObamaCare” under a Republican president?
The answer is really simple and remarkably sad. Republicans nominated and helped elect a president who would actually follow through on repeal. Suddenly and unexpectedly, what would have been impossible under a Clinton administration became very real with a Trump administration — too real for “realist” centrists like the Tuesday Group. Paul Ryan backed off, and the Tuesday Group was happy moving the goalposts, protecting most of ObamaCare’s Title I. Then everyone acted shocked when the House Freedom Caucus and other Republicans refused to give up on their campaign promises.
Their refusal should not have come as a shock. Even The New York Times, no friend to attempts to repeal and replace ObamaCare, recognized the Freedom Caucus’ position for what it was. In a recent article on the upcoming election to replace Tom Price in Georgia, the Freedom Caucus were praised as “…some of the most dependably conservative members of Congress and were hailed for their steadfast opposition in the Obama years.” Unlike the Freedom Caucus, the Tuesday Group is defending Obama’s legacy, not fighting to undo it.
Such dependability is precisely what the American people are looking for. Flip-flopping and fecklessness is par for the course in Washington, and Americans elected Republicans because they were ready for a change of course.
The Tuesday Group must use this time at home to reconnect with their constituents and renew their commitment to what their job is really all about — respecting their wishes and representing them well.
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