Obstruction, payback and vindication are all understandable emotions that Democrats might be feeling at this moment. Since 2010 Republicans have made it a mission to repeal, block, distort and lie about Democratic initiatives. Chief among these efforts was the repeal of Obamacare. But Democrats would be arrogant to think their manure doesn’t stink as well. Obamacare is a step in the right direction but it’s far from perfect and needs to be fixed !
Democrats created Obamacare the right way. Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare the wrong way.
In February 2009 President Obama announced to a joint session of Congress his desire to work with them on a plan for healthcare reform. By July, a series of bills were approved by committees within the House of Representatives. This was done with very little input from Republican Congressman, they chose not to participate even though Democrats gave them the opportunity. On the Senate side from June to September, the Senate Finance Committee held a series of 31 meetings to develop a healthcare reform bill. This group in particular, Democrats Max Baucus, Jeff Bingaman and Kent Conrad, along with Republicans Mike Enzi, Chuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe met for more than 60 hours. The principles that they discussed in conjunction with the other committees, became the foundation of the Senate healthcare reform bill.
But as Norm Ornstein explains in his 2015 story “The Real Story of Obamacare’s Birth” after Democrats made some concessions to get Republican support, Republicans decided they would all vote to block Obamacare.
Now Republicans control everything and made true the lie they told about Democrats. Within 45 days they passed out of committee with party-line votes and no hearings repeal Obamacare legislation. Their failed attempt to get the bill to the floor for final passage showed stupidity and incompetence. Republicans didn’t even develop consensus among themselves.
Now there is a beam of light at the end of the tunnel. President Donald Trump in the best political way for him possible has offered Democrats an invitation to negotiate.
In remarks after Speaker Ryan canceled the vote to repeal Obamacare, President Trump mentioned several times that Democrats would come to him begging for help to save Obamacare.
Obviously this was a very self-serving way for President Trump to make an overture. He also mentioned several times that the repeal effort got no Democratic support. He even tried to blame Democrats for the bill’s failure. This was a politically safe way for him to say Democratic input is needed.
It would be foolish for Democrats to rebuff this opportunity. The President and Republicans are in total control for at least the next two years, Democrats control nothing.
The road to repair Obamacare goes through President Trump who can veto or sign any fix into law. If the President takes repeal of Obamacare off the table then Democrats can’t let arrogance stop them from negotiating a fix to Obamacare.
President Trump doesn’t have the ideological challenges that his Republican Freedom Caucus Members have about healthcare. Freedom Caucus Members don’t believe healthcare is an entitlement that government should provide, it violates their core principles. Their bottom line no compromise position is repeal.
Democrats could never negotiate a compromise with them. President Trump is not ideologically opposed so Democrats should negotiate a compromise with him if he will take repeal off the table.
Democrats still have a chance to save Obamacare because of Republican incompetence not because of Democratic political power.
Obamacare is something Democrats should take pride in but stupidity would cause them to overlook the real problems with Obamacare.
Chief among the problems is cost. While its true Obamacare has slowed the rising cost of healthcare it has not decreased the cost of healthcare.
Premiums and deductibles are rising on the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchanges. In extreme cases the increases can be one hundred percent or more. The majority of people buying insurance through the exchanges are not personally affected, but for those who do not qualify for the federal subsidy the increases can be brutal.
Hopefully Democrats have learned a lesson from Republicans. There has to be substance behind opposition. Republicans spent 7 years trying to repeal Obamacare with no plan to replace it.
Democrats need to be coming forward now with fix solutions instead of just crying foul at Republican repeal efforts. Fortunately there are true fixes to improve Obamacare.
Now is the time for Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to put pride aside. They should take the first step. Reach out to the President with a proposal that if he will take repeal off the table, they will work with him to fix Obamacare. It’s in his interest to make this work because he needs a win to gain momentum for the tax fight ahead.
Democrats don’t be arrogant. Jump through this window of opportunity and save our healthcare system. There are plenty opportunities ahead to both fight the President and deal Republicans some payback.
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective into current events. Drop by his blog for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.