Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Meanwhile In Congress, Con't

With all the serious allegations surrounding the Trump regime right now, it's important to note that House Republicans have their own agenda, and at the top of the list is burying Obamacare and throwing tens of millions of people off various Medicaid expansion programs. The GOP hardliners led by NC Rep. Mark Meadows in the House Freedom Caucus aren't waiting around for this to magically happen (surprise, they don't trust Paul Ryan) so Meadows and his Tea Party crew say they want it gone completely by this time next month.

The situation: Republicans have two different opportunities to pass major legislation without Democrats through a process called budget reconciliation. The plan has been to use the first reconciliation bill on Obamacare repeal and replace and the second on tax reform. But while leadership has been exploring how much of a replacement it can fit into the repeal bill, Meadows — along with a growing number of conservatives — are saying they want repeal and replacement done in separate bills voted on at the same time. He then wants to use the second reconciliation to replace Obamacare, along with tax reform. 
Here's what he wants: 
  1. Within the next 30 days, a vote on full repeal of Obamacare. This includes the individual mandate, the employer mandate and the law's insurance regulations. While these laws weren't included in a 2015 repeal bill because of reconciliation rules, Meadows thinks there are ways around that.
  2. Immediately vote on a replacement plan, also within the next 30 days. The replacement must include a way of dealing with pre-existing conditions. Assume it doesn't pass the Senate filibuster.
  3. Potentially vote on a tax reform package under normal procedure, without the border adjustment tax. Meadows thinks this would have a chance of passing with some Democratic support in the Senate.
  4. Include Obamacare replacement in the second reconciliation bill "that is, quote, being used for tax reform, but it doesn't have to be just used for tax reform."
House conservatives are generally united in their Obamacare strategy. 

Ahh, but when you talk about tax reform and separate, multiple votes, that starts making Republicans nervous, and Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the Dems may yet have an opening to strike.

Ok, but: Putting an Obamacare replacement and tax cuts in the second reconciliation bill — without a border adjustment tax — will cost a ton of money. It's unclear where that money will come from, but it could very well require the bill to need 60 votes in the Senate if it's not paid for. Democrats are very unlikely to help pass anything Republicans put forward after an Obamacare repeal, especially if they also don't like the tax components. Republicans know this and could be very unwilling to jeopardize tax reform in this way.

In other words, by tying expensive tax cuts for the wealthy to Obamacare repeal in order to get the double whammy, the GOP may have bitten off more than they can chew and left the door open for the Democrats to scrap the entire plan.  Impatient GOP House conservatives are getting a lot of static from constituents about not having this done already, and the pressure on them is about to get turned up to 11.

For the past three weeks, Democratic protesters have swarmed Republican town hall events across the country, booing, shouting down and trying to embarrass GOP lawmakers seeking to gut ObamaCare. 
In the coming weeks, grassroots conservatives will be fighting back. 
FreedomWorks, the Tea Party-aligned outside group, beginning next month will be organizing rallies and urging its nearly 6 million activists to turn out at town hall events to ensure members of Congress are also getting an earful from ObamaCare detractors.

“There will be more grassroots hand-to-hand combat than we’ve seen in Washington for a long time,” FreedomWorks President and CEO Adam Brandon said Monday during an interview in his office near the Capitol. 
“The conservative [lawmakers], they need to see us out there pushing. And if they see that, they’ll be bold,” he continued. “If they don’t see grassroots there on the ground, they’ll start slipping.”

In other words, the odds that House GOP blockheads are going to move too far, too fast on Obamacare is increasing exponentially, and that the whole thing my come apart at the seams. It certainly wouldn't be the first time Obama-era legislation would be saved by GOP incompetence, and it would certainly not be the last.

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