Sen. Mike Lee Slams Senate Healthcare Bill

Sen. Mike Lee came out hard against the Senate healthcare reform bill, named the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), in a statement on his websiteFollowing a joint statement issued with three conservative colleagues, Sen. Mike Lee elaborated more fully on his opposition, his reasoning, and some of the process of the negotiations of the bill.

He lays out his position quite clearly,

No, the Senate healthcare bill released yesterday does not repeal Obamacare. It doesn’t even significantly reform American healthcare.

 

It cuts taxes. It bails out insurance companies. It props up Obamacare through the next election. It lays out plans to slow Medicaid spending beginning in 2025, but that probably won’t happen. And it leaves in place the ham-fisted federal regulations that have driven up family health insurance premiums by 140 percent since Obamacare was implemented.

 

As the bill is currently drafted, I won’t vote for it.

A scathing rebuke of legislation if there ever was one.  But he doesn’t end there.  He then explains some of the backstory of the behind-closed-doors wrangling and negotiation.  He joined the Senate working group on reforming healthcare in order to fulfill the campaign promise to repeal Obamacare, which the GOP has run on since 2010.  That was his starting point, but many of his GOP colleagues opposed that position.  So when that failed, he sought a “partial repeal”, which had passed the Senate in 2015 and Senate leadership again promised back in January of this year.  A “partial repeal” would force a restart to get things right this time.  But that was rebuffed too.  Then, Sen. Lee says he sought to repeal Obamacare’s crippling regulations, but the BCRA has left those regulations mostly in place.

Yet when the Better Care Reconciliation Act was unveiled yesterday, the core Obamacare regulations were largely untouched.

 

Far short of “repeal,” the Senate bill keeps the Democrats’ broken system intact, just with less spending on the poor to pay for corporate bailouts and tax cuts. A cynic might say that the BCRA is less a Republican health care bill than a caricature of a Republican health care bill.

Even so, Sen. Lee understands the opportunities in front of him.  He still is willing to consider voting for this legislation if there is one major provision added.  He wants the option of Federalism to be available, i.e., he wants states to be able to opt out of the national system and experiment on their own.

And so, for all my frustrations about the process and my disagreements with the substance of BCRA, I would still be willing to vote for it if it allowed states and/or individuals to opt-out of the Obamacare system free-and-clear to experiment with different forms of insurance, benefits packages, and care provision options. Liberal states might try single-payer systems, while conservatives might emphasize health savings accounts. Some people embrace association health plans or so-called “medishare” ministry models. My guess is different approaches will work for different people in different places – like everything else in life.

 

 

To win my vote, the Republican health care bill must create a little space for states and individuals to sidestep Washington’s arrogant incompetence, and see if they can do better.

Despite moderates getting most everything they have demanded in BCRA, such an opt-out provision could still drive off moderate support, which Mitch McConnell has spent most of his time courting.  Many moderate Republicans don’t really want to repeal Obamacare.  They want to “fix” it instead.  Thus, they are keeping the centralized government control that is at the heart of Obamacare.  That’s why the Senate bill looks more like Obamacare 2.0 than Repeal and Replace.

Even so, with 52 GOP Senators, Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two votes.  Liberal Republican Sen. Dean Heller has already come out against BCRA.  Heller is up for re-election in 2018, and he’s facing a tough race.  With the unpopularity of the current attempts at GOP healthcare reform, he may be impossible to win over, no matter what.  With Heller’s vote likely gone, Mike Lee’s vote becomes all the more important.  Even though McConnell would prefer to please moderates, he cannot ignore conservatives here.  Time will tell what happens next to the bill before the vote.

No matter what legislation comes out of the Senate though, it seems likely that the House and Senate will end up in a Conference Committee to hash out differences in their bills.  That is where the story will really be told.

Sens. Lee and Cruz: ‘it’s time to reassess Western Hemisphere alliances’

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) penned an op-ed on Tuesday discussing U.S. involvement in the Organization of American States, along with other foreign alliances.

“As citizens of the United States, we recognize the rights of foreign peoples to live and govern themselves as they see fit. Just as the American people would not tolerate another nation dictating to us how to run our country, we believe other people should be able to make their own laws free from outside interference,” the op-ed reads.

“But the United States also has a tradition of participating in international organizations that promote the spread of democracy while also protecting the sovereignty of other countries. At times, this delicate balance has been lost and our ability to promote American interests has been diminished.”

“Unfortunately, that is what has happened with U.S. involvement in the Organization of American States over the last eight years. With the 47th General Assembly of the OAS this week in Mexico, the United States and President Donald Trump have before them an opportunity to correct this imbalance by engaging more responsibly with all our neighbors to the south through greater respect of religious and cultural freedom.”

The Senators argue that while the OAS was founded on  an “admirable” principle, and has proved useful in fighting Communism in countries like Cuba and Venezuela, some of its activities are beginning to contradict its founding principle.

“The OAS was founded on the admirable principle that “Every State has the right to choose, without external interference, its political, economic, and social system and to organize itself in the way best suited to it.”

The op-ed adds that for decades the United States has been the “single largest donor” to the OAS.

“The OAS exerts pressure on countries through the resolutions of the General Assembly, executive actions of the Secretary General’s office, and rulings of the Inter-American Court,” Cruz and Lee continue. “The OAS has also used the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to force alien cultural practices on Latin American countries, including formal recommendations promoting abortion in countries whose legal, cultural and religious practices defend life.”

In discussing the issue of abortion, Lee and Cruz say that the OAS has promoted the procedure in countries “party to the American Convention on Human Rights” like Paraguay, which has recently moved to protect their pro-life standards.

“The IACHR hasn’t stopped with promoting abortion. In comments on the 2016 case Duque vs Colombia, the IACHR stated that Colombia’s – at the time – traditional definition of marriage reflected, “an obtuse and stereotyped understanding of what a family is.” Provocations like that serve no useful purpose for the United States, and indeed hinder constructive engagement with the family-oriented countries of Latin America.”

“As U.S. senators, we are alarmed that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being spent overseas to advocate for political issues that aren’t even settled here at home,” Cruz and Lee said. “In 2017, the United States could spend $41.9 billion on foreign assistance. It is our responsibility to ensure that money is spent to further U.S. interests, not to promote an agenda that many foreigners and Americans alike find repugnant. The OAS’s recent actions amount to ideological colonialism and our neighbors – in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Uruguay – have protested the intrusion.”

The Senators also discuss President Trump’s moves to “rebalance” U.S. foreign policy in favor of the American people.

“We hope that Trump and the new leaders at the State Department work to end progressive cultural imperialism that spread over the past eight years. This can and should start in our own backyard. Our national interest lies in promoting security and economic prosperity for Americans, not in telling other democracies what to do. Respecting the cultural and religious differences of our allies should be a top priority for an administration that campaigned on breaking away from business-as-usual foreign policy,” the Senators conclude.

Is Obamacare repeal bringing Cruz and McConnell together?

Someone should call John Boehner and ask him if Lucifer has converted.

A Politico story out this week points to Texas Senator Ted Cruz as Mitch McConnell’s chosen point man on the Senate’s Obamacare repeal efforts:

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — a man Cruz once derided as a liar and an ally of Democrats — is counting on the Texan to help navigate an Obamacare repeal bill through the Senate with virtually no margin for error. As a trusted voice of the conservative wing of the GOP and conduit to the House Freedom Caucus, Cruz is fast emerging as a pivotal player in the Republican bid to do away with the landmark Democratic health care law.

If true – and it may well be, given McConnell’s inclusion of Cruz and a number of other conservatives on the repeal development team and exclusion of several moderate Senators – it marks a huge shift for either Cruz, McConnell, or more likely – both.

As told by Politico, the story of Cruz’ rise is due to his transformation from bomb-throwing political hellion to savvy political negotiator. Though it’s true that Cruz seems to have embraced tactics that his colleagues find more palatable, the true story is likely more one of practicality than transformation.

That Cruz would find more acceptance in the Senate post-election should come as no surprise. First-term Senator or not, anyone who can gin up the level of primary support Cruz did and develop the best ground game in modern political history is sure to gain some attention, if not respect. After all, moderates tend to be moderate because they’re more interested in votes than in principle – and Cruz proved that he knows how to generate votes.

It is also likely that McConnell saw the writing on the wall in the House repeal efforts. The fact that House Plan A fell apart due largely to a lack of conservative support signaled that the path forward lay in conservative territory. That Plan B passed after gaining early conservative support only confirmed it.

For his part, Cruz’ comments on his newfound role do sound more inclusive than those from the pre-election disputes with his own party – a change Cruz attributes to the party’s move from the defensive to the offensive side of the game.

“One of the challenges when the Obamacare bill was in the House, was that early on was that the different parts of the party were not talking to each other,” Cruz said in an interview in his office. “We wanted to ensure that the process from the outset was collaborative and inclusive … Different circumstances call for different approaches … Now our job is to deliver on the promises. And that’s a markedly different role than trying to prevent harmful policies from an imperial president.”

While the result of the Senate effort remains to be seen, one thing is for certain:  With people like Cruz, Tom Coburn, and Mike Lee involved in the process, the interests of conservatives will be given due consideration.

 

Mike Lee Promises The Senate Will Confirm Gorsuch “One Way Or Another”

Fed up with the long confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) took to CNN to declare that the GOP will make sure that Gorsuch gets confirmed to the high court.

“Look, we’re going to get Gorsuch confirmed,” Lee said. “This is a good judge; this is a judge who interprets the law based on what it says versus what he might wish it would say, and we intend to get him confirmed. We will get him confirmed one way or another.”

When the anchor pressed him – over and over – on whether “one way or another” meant using “the nuclear option,” Lee stood his ground.

“Yeah, look, there are a number of routes this thing could take, and I believe he will be confirmed at the end of this,” Lee said. “I’m not exactly sure what procedural route, but he’s going to be confirmed.”

Good for Mike Lee for not falling into the interviewer’s trap of insisting on the nuclear option and for standing firm with Gorsuch. I believe we can take Lee at his word – as “Sooper Mexican” put it over at The Right Scoop, “Mike Lee is not the kind of dude to lie about this stuff.”

Republican Leadership Would Rather Negotiate with Democrats than Conservatives on Obamacare

Within hours of SwampCare being pulled by Speaker Ryan, Republican leaders in the senate were signaling full retreat on any conservative plan to repeal Obamacare. Both Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) stated openly that the response to conservatives stopping SwampCare was for House and Senate leadership to work with democrats to craft a new bill…not stand with conservative members who are working to fulfill the promise of full repeal:

Many commentators and Republican members have claimed that conservatives allowed ‘the perfect to become the enemy of the good’ or that conservatives are unwilling to negotiate. The insidious nature of these lies can be found when the bill is examined and the process understood. While Speaker Ryan may claim that his bill gave conservatives “80%” of what they want, non-partisan analysis of the bill from groups like the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Heritage Foundation have detailed the yuge flaws in the ACHA.

TPPF’s Chip Roy (Sen. Ted Cruz’s former Chief of Staff) released a statement following the bill’s death sheds light on the conservative reforms necessary in a true repeal bill.

While the Freedom Caucus has been lambasted by leadership as unwilling to negotiate, the truth of the matter is that Rep. Meadows and his colleagues worked at every turn to amend the bill into one they could in good conscience support. These attempts were thwarted by House leadership at every turn. Furthermore, moderate Republicans like Reps Frelinghuysen and Comstock (not members of the Freedom Caucus) who refused to support the bill and lent the final death knell.

While Senate leadership may be looking to their left for help, we do have a small cadre of conservatives who stand by their promise of full repeal. They’re under no illusion that it will be an easy process but their promises of the last 7 years have been sincere. They know the importance of repeal in many cases because it was the passage of Obamacare that catalyzed their election:

Thursday afternoon, Sen. Mike Lee summed up the reasons that the bill failed and the path forward for repeal. Watch the video below:

BURN. Mike Lee Scorches House Leadership Over SwampCare

In an interview with CNN, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) scorched the House Leadership’s proposed Obamacare replacement bill for perpetuating the status quo.

Citing a comment from Speaker Paul Ryan, Wolf Blister prefaced his question to Senator Lee by saying conservatives will get roughly 85 percent of what they want from the American Health Care Act. Lee respectfully but strongly disagreed with Speaker Ryan’s assertion that this bill provides 85 percent of what conservatives want in healthcare reform.

“When you put a list of what conservatives want and everything that’s in this bill, you don’t get to anywhere close to 85 percent,” said Lee.

Lee added, “This healthcare bill does far too little at all to bring premiums down.”

He later said on Fox News the House should cancel the vote citing lack of votes needed to pass it.

Mounting opposition against The American Health Care Act is palpable. Over 25 members of the House Freedom Caucus have pledged to oppose the bill — citing its failure to undo the damage wrought by Obamacare. They are confident this alternative bill won’t do anything to lower healthcare premiums, for example. (22 House votes are needed to stop the bill.) With respect to the U.S. Senate, joining Senator Lee in his opposition to the healthcare bill are Senators Rand Paul, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and four other rumored ones.

President Trump held a meeting earlier this week and suggested there will be a price to pay if Republicans don’t tow in line to support The American Health Care Act.

“I’m gonna come after you, but I know I won’t have to, because I know you’ll vote ‘yes,’ ” Trump said. “Honestly, a loss is not acceptable, folks.”

Trump pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare. The bill in its current form clearly fails to do so. The lawmakers pledging opposition to the bill should be applauded for keeping their campaign promises. Let’s hope a real, market-oriented healthcare bill — or market-based amendments– could be considered and passed. It’s imperative to get serious with healthcare reform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senator Mike Lee Urges Lawmakers to Keep Their Promise of an Obamacare Repeal

Consistently, with every conservative think tank group, Utah Senator Mike Lee is rated the most conservative lawmaker in Washington.

He has repeatedly shown himself to be fearless in speaking out about issues that conservative voters care about, and he is near-always on the right side.

After many months and years of voters screaming for the repeal of Obamacare, and an election that gave the GOP the power to do exactly that, what the voters got was an “amended” act, and not the full repeal that desperately needs to happen.

In fact, as the day has drawn out and more and more information has been released, it becomes increasingly clear that this might even be worse for the people than Obamacare.

With his customary boldness, Senator Lee released a statement through his Senate website condemning this hasty, ill-advised effort, and I hope his colleagues are listening.

“This is not the Obamacare repeal bill we’ve been waiting for. It is a missed opportunity and a step in the wrong direction,” Sen. Lee said.

“We promised the American people we would drain the swamp and end business as usual in Washington. This bill does not do that. We don’t know how many people would use this new tax credit, we don’t know how much it will cost, and we don’t know if this bill will make health care more affordable for Americans.”

“This is exactly the type of back-room dealing and rushed process that we criticized Democrats for and it is not what we promised the American people.”

“Let’s fulfill our Obamacare repeal promise immediately and then take our time and do reform right. Let’s pass the 2015 repeal bill that Republicans in both houses of Congress voted for and sent to the White House just 15 months ago. Once Obamacare has been properly sent to the dustbin of history then we can begin a deliberative, open, and honest process to reform our nation’s health care system.”

How difficult is that?

Just repeal, then start from scratch.

Senator Lee is right, and if his colleagues continue on this path, storming the gates of Big Government, the backlash of voters in 2018 could prove devastating to the advances made since the 2016 election.