Pelosi: Ryan, GOP ‘afraid of the facts’

Pelosi: Ryan, GOP ‘afraid of the facts’
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says House Republicans scrambling to advance their ObamaCare repeal plan are “always afraid of the facts.” 

Democrats are up in arms that Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Soaring deficits could put Trump in a corner if there's a recession Paul Ryan moving family to Washington MORE (R-Wis.) and GOP leaders are staging committee votes on their replacement proposal this week before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its assessment of the cost and how it will affect insurance coverage.

“Republicans are racing this bill forward before the CBO can truly expose the ... catastrophic consequences of their health bill,” Pelosi charged Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol.  

Pelosi said the process marks “a stark contrast” to how the Democrats operated in passing ObamaCare in 2009 and 2010.

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“We never had a markup, or a floor vote, without a CBO score to show what ... the impact of the bill would be,” she said.

Pelosi is circulating a 2009 letter in which Ryan and other leading Republicans argued the importance of having the CBO analysis prior to markup votes on ObamaCare. 

“Before Congress changes health care as the American people know it, we must know the likely consequences of the House Democrat legislation,” the Republicans wrote to then-CBO Director Doug Elmendorf.

The change in tune now that Republicans are in charge has not been overlooked by Pelosi and the Democrats, who are accusing GOP leaders of hypocrisy. 

“He was asking, appropriately, for things that we had asked for, too, from the CBO. And now, as Speaker of the House, he’s saying, ‘What do we need a CBO report for? We can just go mark it up,’ ” Pelosi said.  

“They don’t want the American people to see the facts. They’re always afraid of the facts. It’s just a remarkable thing.” 

Pelosi’s criticism goes beyond the healthcare debate to include the Republicans’ refusal to force President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE to release his tax returns as part of a congressional investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s elections. It's a proposal Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to pass on several occasions in recent weeks, and Pelosi said there’s more to come. 

“We will continue to ask about those tax returns because we want to know about the Russian connection,” she said. “What do the Russians have on Donald Trump, politically, financially and personally? … What would the tax returns tell us about that?” 

The comments came just a few hours after the House Ways and Means Committee passed its portion of the GOP’s ObamaCare replacement bill on a strict party-line vote.  

The Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees a larger part of the replacement plan, is in the middle of its own marathon hearing. It remains unclear when the panel will vote.

As the debate has evolved, GOP leaders are being hammered from all sides. 

Leading healthcare groups — including the nation’s top lobbying associations for doctors, hospitals and nurses — are all opposed to the bill in its current form. 

Democrats are universally opposed, saying the legislation will shred benefits, hike out-of-pocket costs and, for millions of people, eliminate coverage altogether.  

Conservatives, on the other hand, are critical that the proposed tax credits embody a new entitlement program that keeps the federal government steering the nation’s healthcare system. 

And centrist Republicans are wary that those same tax credits aren’t generous enough to ensure coverage for their constituents currently insured under ObamaCare’s subsidies and Medicaid expansion, both of which would be eliminated under the GOP bill.  

“I’ll tell you my main concern with what is happening right now is that will these tax credits be sufficient for people to buy insurance, compared to what they are getting now through the subsidies?” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”  

“In my state, I have 700,000 people who were included in the Medicaid expansion and probably about a total of 1.1 million people who now have coverage. I want to understand how these people are going to be impacted. And at this point, those questions have not been answered satisfactorily for me.” 

Pelosi, for her part, is predicting the Republicans’ bill has little chance of becoming law. If it does, she warned, it would have the ironic effect of shifting wealth to richer blue states on the coast, which tend to vote Democratic, at the expense of rural red states, which backed Trump and the Republicans.

“Sadly, the people who will lose care … if the Republican plan were to prevail, which I doubt it will, are people who voted for Donald Trump, many of them,” she said. “And you know where the benefits are gonna go for all that $600 billion? Largely blue states. You know where some of the benefits will be lost? Largely in red areas. 

“It's a very sad transfer of wealth.”