Leverage and the Art of the Deal

Politicians are demanding immediate federal subsidies to healthcare insurance companies, all the while ignoring the fact that the federal court has deemed these subsidies unconstitutional.

The ACHA legislation was written giving the federal government the right and capability to subsidize healthcare insurance cost of healthcare payments. This was considered necessary because Obamacare doesn’t allow insurance companies to have higher premiums for Americans with pre-existing health conditions.  Not surprisingly, every insurance company has requested government approval for increased premiums each successive year, with no end in sight. Frustrated with the inability to repeal this bill while Obama was in office, the Republican led House of Representatives stripped this subsidy money from the budget. Essentially, these government subsidies for insurance companies were not apportioned by the House of Representatives for the budget.

Former President Obama, as was his wont, ignored the fact that the federal budget provided zero funding for insurance subsidies, and diverted money from the Treasury Department making these payments faithfully. This overt unauthorized act prompted the House of Representatives to sue him in federal court, claiming he had violated the constitution because the House of Representative have the sole right and responsibility to apportion funding for the budget. They won in federal court, with the President being ordered to cease and desist these payments.

President Obama appealed this ruling, and continued these payments, claiming he had the right during the appeals process. It is still in the appeals process.

When President Trump came into office, an early decision was made to continue these payments through July in order to give Congress time to craft legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. The decision to continue these unconstitutional payments is expected to be made any day now.

This is where it gets interesting. Last week the Senate’s Moderate Party declined to repeal Obamacare. This in spite of the fact virtually all of them had campaigned on ACHA repeal and had promised their constituents full repeal once a Republican president was in the White House.

Immediately upon this act of treachery to Republicans across the fruited plains, senators such as Lamar Alexander R-TN rushed to assure the MSM they would take up bipartisan efforts in committee in order to come up with a solution which would pass the senate. But they conveniently left out two very vital pressing points. This is where the President’s leverage comes in.

It is evident these senators don’t believe President Trump will discontinue these payments. Also, healthcare insurance firms are currently submitting requests to raise healthcare premiums, some by as much as 30% or higher. Which means the cost of these federal subsidies is increasing even as the President makes his decision.  So, they chose to stay with Obamacare, move on to tax reform and return to healthcare reform in the fall. All the while naively believing they had the President over a barrel.

Imagine their surprise with the President notified them he was seriously considering cancelling those payments, as well as premium subsidies for the congressional healthcare policies. One by one, they rushed in front of any microphone they could find and pompously demanded these payments be made, essentially asking him and the American people to trust them to take care of Obamacare at a later date.

Have no doubt of this fact: If the President discontinues these unconstitutional payments, Obamacare will fail very quickly. These subsidies are solely responsible for propping up this misbegotten piece of legislation. If done now, the Democrats still own this 4-year debacle. They wrote it without any Republican assistance or compromise, they fought change throughout Obama’s time in the White House, and they have obstructed every effort by Republicans to repeal and/or change this bill.

The President has an obligation to drop the government’s objection to the Federal Court ruling and back out of the appeal. The President has an obligation to notify insurance companies they will not be receiving any further unconstitutional subsidies from our government. The President has an obligation to immediately discontinue subsidizing Congressional healthcare premiums while millions of Americans have seen an average 105% premium increase since Obamacare came into existence.

There should be no worry about the House re-authorizing the funding for these insurance companies. There simply is not appetite within the majority party to own this any further.

The President has an opportunity to uphold a campaign promise to his supporters. It was thought this promise would be upheld in conjunction with Congress. Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be possible at all. It is incumbent upon the President to continue draining the swamp and this is yet another excellent way to achieve that goal. Its a difficult decision, one with consequences; but no one ever said the Art of Leverage was simple.


The Unmasking of the GOP

For the past decade or so, being a Republican has equated to being a conservative. This wasn’t the case at one time. Indeed, being a conservative Republican meant being in the minority of the minority party.

Newt Gingrich led the conservative charge during the Clinton Presidency, increasing the number in the House if not the Senate. At the same time, through grassroots efforts such as the Christian Coalition, conservatives began winning at the local level and this success begat conservative success at the federal level.

However, in the early days of the Obama presidency, the explosion of the Tea Party changed the dynamics of the Republican Party as we know it. The anger of the Republican base against the liberal socialist overreach of the Obama White House and Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, shook the establishment Republican leadership to its very core.

Suddenly, every Republican claimed some affiliation to the Tea Party and were automatically conservative. John McCain, a leader in open borders and amnesty, famously snuggled up to the Tea Party and in one of the most hypocritical TV spots of all time, declared “build the dang wall!”.  Mitch McConnell found great affection for Rand Paul and all things Kentucky Tea Party. On and on and on it went.

Until being conservative was synonymous with being Republican. “I am Republican” suddenly meant “I am Conservative”. This misappropriation of the term allowed Republican leadership, and longtime Republican moderates the flexibility of hiding behind the veil of conservatism and Tea Party bone fides.

While only Senators McCain, Collins, and Murkowski voted with the Democrats, rest assured there are more than a handful waiting in the wings ready to side with Chuck Schumer if necessary. Now, eager to move on to their next failure, they risk further unmasking by President Trump’s threat to end federal subsidies to healthcare insurance firms, and to the Congressional healthcare plan as well.

Sadly, conservative poseurs are not limited to the Senate: (The Hill)

Many congressional Republicans have called for continuing the CSR payments. But he is running into opposition from key Republicans, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (Utah) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady(Texas), In a statement Friday, Brady warned that “simply letting Obamacare collapse” would cause “even more pain” for people in his district facing high premiums and fewer choices. Brady has called for legally and temporarily funding the payments.

Some have already allowed the unmasking: (Wash Examiner)

Republicans in Congress may soon have to appropriate federal funds to insurers they fought to hold off for several years under Obamacare, or otherwise risk being blamed for a chain reaction of insurer exits and premium hikes. “I hope the president will use his authority to extend those payments. He can do that,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the No. 3 Senate Republican. “If he doesn’t then Congress will have to look at what our options are.” Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told Reuters in an interview Monday, he and other congressional leaders planned to tell Trump they want to end the debate on healthcare for now and turn to tax reform. Hatch said he would prefer Congress not appropriate the subsidies to insurers, but said, “I think we’re going to have to do that.” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he thought Trump may continue the funding. “It does in fact affect a lot of low-income citizens and my sense is that he will continue those,” he said. “Regardless of what is being said I think he understand that it has an effect on low-income citizens.”

To no one else’s surprise, more senators just can’t wait to hop on the federal gravy train: (The Hill)

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health Committee, has also called for Congress to act on the payments. His committee will be holding hearings on improving the stability of the Obamacare markets in the near future, which could lead to bipartisan action. “I guess I’m hopeful that the administration, the president will keep making them and if he doesn’t then I guess we’ll have to figure out from a congressional standpoint what we do,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, said on Monday. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 Republican, noted that Trump would have to sign legislation guaranteeing the payments, making it a “challenge.” He also said that the prospect of action by Congress is a “real live issue.”

These are senior leaders in the Republican Party. While the party might be comprised of many true conservatives outside of DC, inside the swamp, it seems the entire leadership is more moderate Rockefeller republican than Tea Party conservative.

Over the next few months, it will be interesting how many politicians within the Grand Old Party will risk unmasking to enable federal spending and taxation all the while deploring all things Trump. I’m confident most if not all conservatives outside the Beltway swamp prefer tweets over Obamacare, higher taxes, and increased unemployment. Perhaps only an aggressive 2018 primary season will provide the cure to GOP moderate malaise.


Ted Cruz: “No Party Can Remain In Power By Lying To The American People”

Ted Cruz is right.

After seven years of the repeated promise that Obamacare would be repealed once Republicans had the power to do so has come to naught, conservative voters feel betrayed.

Cruz, who voted in favor of the “skinny repeal,” is correct in saying that Americans who voted for Republicans based on this promise now feel a sense of anger.

“There are going to be a great many Americans who tonight feel a sense of betrayal — feel a sense of betrayal that politicians made a promise,” Cruz told Fox News directly after the latest repeal effort failed.

“I’ll tell you this, if you stand up and campaign and say we’re going to repeal ObamaCare and you vote for ObamaCare, those are not consistent,” he added. “And the American people are entirely justified in saying, ‘Any politician who told me that and voted the other didn’t tell me the truth; they lied to me.’ ”

The “skinny repeal,” a measure dedicated to repealing parts of the Obamacare early Friday morning, failed with three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and John McCain (Ariz.) — voting with the Democrats to reject the bill.

All three Republican Senators who voted against the “skinny repeal” campaigned on the promise to repeal to Obamacare. Last night, they once again voted against doing so.

Cruz, who has consistently supported a full repeal, said last week that Republicans would “look like fools” if they failed to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“You can’t have your central promise for seven years be we’ll repeal ObamaCare, and then you show up and vote not even to take up the bill to consider repealing ObamaCare,” he said.

“I’ve said many times, if we fail to get this done, I think, collectively, Republicans will look like fools,” he concluded.

Republicans and Conservatives are at Odds Over Taxes in Obamacare Replacement Bill

In 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016, the American people elected Republicans to Congress with a clear mandate: repeal and replace Obamacare. Yet somehow the GOP has managed to do little more than propose watered-down versions of the health care legislation that citizens so desperately want replaced.

As the Senate hammers out their version of Obamacare replacement, there’s one sticking point that is making the negotiations more difficult – taxes.

Specifically, senators are divided over the inclusion of Obamacare’s 3.8 percent net investment income tax. Conservatives want the tax repealed, while more moderate Republicans are fine with keeping the tax as a way to help fund health care for those with lower incomes.

Some in the Senate emphasize the importance of keeping the tax embedded in the new legislation:

“We [want to] address the issue of ensuring lower-income citizens are in a position to buy plans that are actually provide them appropriate healthcare,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters last week.

While other members of Congress understand a need to keep the tax in place whether they like it or not.

“Our official position is we want to repeal all the taxes. That being said, we understand the logistics of having to have enough revenue,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said. “And so I’m not at this point closing that off to negotiations because I think it would be premature to do that.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told his constituents in a telephone town hall last week that he’s “personally not opposed” to keeping ObamaCare taxes to pay for health benefits.

On the other end of the spectrum are taxpayer advocacy groups who are adamantly opposed to the tax remaining in any GOP replacement.

“Cutting the capital gains tax gets you growth,” said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. He called keeping the investment tax an “economically illiterate bad idea.”

Taxpayers Protection Alliance President David Williams said that failing to repeal the investment tax would cause investors to delay selling assets and would “discourage more entry into the stock market.”

So many questions remain. Can the GOP create a replacement that will keep taxes low while still allowing the poor to have more options? Will they proceed with or without the tax in place? Will they scrap Obamacare altogether and create something new? Is a free market solution possible at this point?

But the biggest question of all that is yet to be answered is this one: will the Republicans keep the promises they’ve made to the voters time and time again to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment?

Senator Cruz: If We Can’t Fix Obamacare, Repeal It

Sometimes the simple answers really are the best.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz held a town hall event on Thursday night, sponsored by the Concerned Veterans for America, with the initial topic of discussion to be the Department of Veterans Affairs and ongoing concerns for the nation’s veterans.

Apparently, many of those in the audience felt the ongoing struggle to replace Obamacare was equally relevant to their concerns, and they pressed Cruz on it.

Cruz’s endorsement of repealing and then later replacing ObamaCare comes after Trump tweeted his support for such a plan last week.

Trump’s tweet came after the Republican Senate leadership delayed a vote on the Obamacare overhaul due to lack of support.

GOP leadership had hoped for a vote before leaving for their July 4 recess, but they did not have the votes to make it a reality. The new goal is to have a bill ready to sign before going on their August recess.

Does it seem as if people in Washington take a lot of vacations?

Cruz offered an amendment to the GOP bill, which would retain the current system’s provision that allows people who purchase insurance plans in the market to keep the plan of their choice.

Part of Cruz’s amendment to the bill also allows for insurers to sell cheaper plans that wouldn’t necessarily follow the regulations for Obamacare, as long as that insurer also sold at least one plan that followed the Obamacare regulations.

The window for coming to an agreement on the bill is closing quickly, with many saying that if it doesn’t make it through the next recess, it’s dead in the water.

Republicans ran on repealing Obamacare, not “tweaking” it. Now they’re faced with the reality that if they can’t move this forward, many of them will be dealing with a bleak 2018.