By all accounts, Barack Obama was (legislatively) doomed before he ever took office. And it wasn’t just because the financial sector was in near ruins, the economy was near meltdown, and we were off fighting wars. It was because in the face of all this Obama was going to have to face most of these challenges without any help from the opposition party. We know this because of a meeting of great consequence held by GOP leadership shortly after Obama’s election in 2008. As they huddled in a panic over what the party would do next, they departed in solidarity, entering a pact to obstruct the president-elect by any means necessary. Someone even wrote a book about it.
But back to Obamacare. Not only did the GOP campaign relentlessly on its repeal and replacement (with much electoral success!), but they voted to do so over 50 times while Obama was still in office. And did so even though they did not have the veto-proof majority needed to override the president’s anticipated veto. A terrible use of government resources from a party that rails against government waste. But beyond that, their opposition was dishonest, to begin with, because Obamacare is rooted in Republican health reform policy proposals.
In a previous piece, I explained how Obamacare is rooted in two GOP health reform plans. The first being the 1990s proposal in response to Hillarycare, and the second being Governor Mitt Romney’s signature health reform bill: Romneycare (you can read those arguments here). However, what we know now that we didn’t before because of Obama’s presence in the White House is exactly how far the GOP was willing to go to meet this disingenuous goal. It began with Trump’s election and the House’s successful passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), and the frat party that followed.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was not kind to the AHCA, finding that the proposal would leave 23 million Americans without insurance within the first 10 years, while also driving up premiums for many. This plan got nowhere fast in the Senate, and they were forced to come up with their own plan in hopes of a repeal. Though they swung and missed a few times, the Senate settled on something called Skinny Repeal, a bill that would roll back portions of Obamacare and save others. Three GOP Senators, including John McCain, joined Democrats in blocking its passage.
This says a few things about the current state of the Republican party. First, it reiterates just how much they despised Barack Obama – going all the way back to before his inauguration. Second, it shows how hollow the Republican opposition is to Obamacare when compared to previous GOP health reform bills. And finally, that the GOP hatred for Obama runs so deep that it compels them to inhumanely rip away health insurance from millions of people. Even President Trump called it mean. Yes, the same bill he celebrated.
The goal of the GOP, particularly regarding health reform, is all about undoing Obama’s legacy. It was never about policy. If it were, there would be an acknowledgment that much of the bill is not the typical single-payer health plan that many Democrats would prefer. It is a market-based GOP plan, with a few tweaks. And I hope the people who rail against the ACA in the face of the truth behind its history have access to insurance that covers one cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.