The partial Obamacare repeal bill passed through Senate last week, while sure to be vetoed, marks an important step forward and a vital opportunity for presidential hopefuls and lawmakers looking to defend their positions next year.
While Democratic lawmakers attempt to portray the Republican Party’s attempt to kill Obamacare as political posturing, the bill is more than symbolic. President Obama, although certain to veto the bill, will be hit with the knowledge that his ‘great healthcare legacy’ is a failure in the eyes of a big portion of the country. Even worse, Obama’s vow to veto this bill is in effect a vow to shut his ears to the needs of the people – because as anyone with a brain knows, Obamacare is not working. According to a joint Medicaid/Medicare report: “In 2014, US health care spending increased 5.3% following growth of 2.9 percent in 2013.”
A recent Gallup survey revealed that nearly one third of Americans (or a family member) have put off medical treatment due to cost. So while the Dems argue that Obamacare gives more people coverage – that isn’t the same thing as more individuals receiving medical care.
In order to prevent a filibuster, GOP lawmakers were forced to make use of a budget process known as reconciliation when discussing the partial Obamacare repeal bill. The process included something for everybody, making it a great opportunity for presidential candidates – and those seeking to defeat them – to show the world what they think of controversial issues including the Affordable Care Act, Planned Parenthood, and gun control.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska used the opportunity to bash Obamacare while attempting to preserve options for women’s health care in the wake of the Planned Parenthood controversy. In addition to dismantling Obamacare, the fast-track legislation that was passed with a vote of 52-47 would also remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood for a year.
Murkowski and others attempted but failed to remove the section of the reconciliation bill that would defund Planned Parenthood. She decided to vote yes on the bill anyway just to show how important it is to eradicate Obamacare.
Democrats used the opportunity to force Republicans to make tough decisions. “Parties live to put candidate on record with controversial issues,” says Darrel West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution. “That allows opponents to put out specific votes for campaign ads. That puts them on the defensive and have to explain those votes. Candidates sometimes lose elections based on these issues.”
Rand Paul attempted to add a clause that would prevent the US from giving visas to individuals from countries known to promote terrorism. His amendment failed 10-89. He also tried and failed to establish a concealed carry program in Washington, DC.
“There is a reason that most of America rightfully believes that politicians in Washington are out of touch. Tonight, we witnessed two common-sense pieces of legislation get defeated,” said Paul. “I will keep fighting to bring much-needed change to our legislative priorities and continue in my efforts to defeat the Washington machine.”
Republicans hope the passing of this bill will foreshadow a complete repeal of Obamacare in 2017.