RUSH: Let’s move on to health care here and get started with what is going on with that today. It’s conflicting, depending on what you read and what you see and what you hear. For example, you can see one of two versions of the story. One story is that the House Freedom Caucus — which is the conservative members of the House — are all saying “no” to the Ryan-Trump version of health care and are prepared to vote no. And so Trump went up to Capitol Hill today to try to persuade them, to twist their arms, to threaten them, to warn them, to whatever.
The other version of the story is, “Eh, they’re fine with it now. They’re not gonna oppose it; they’re not gonna support it. We don’t know how they’re gonna vote, but they’ve stopped their actual opposition.” And Trump still went up to Capitol Hill to deal with it. The big news here to me is political, that Trump is using as much political capital as he thinks he has to force this through. The problem, ladies and gentlemen, with this version of health care as it exists right now is that it is at variance with some of the things President Trump promised during the campaign.
A week before the November election, the president said, “If we don’t repeal and replace Obamacare, we will destroy American health care forever. It’s one of the single most important reasons why we must win on November 8th.” And then he said this: “Our replacement plan includes health savings accounts, a nationwide insurance market where you can purchase across state lines, and letting states manage Medicare dollars.” That all sounds really good, except it’s not in the Ryan bill that Trump wants.
So that’s where the allusion to phase 2 and phase 3 come in.
That’s where we’re told, “Well, yeah, but we’ll get those in the next round, and we’ll get the state line thing thrown in there. We’ll do that in phase 3.” But Arkansas senator Tom Cotton says you’re a fool if you think there’s gonna be anything beyond phase 1. Everybody’s throwing all they’ve got into just getting this thing passed to say they got it passed, and that’s it. There isn’t gonna be a phase 2 or phase 3. And then people are saying, it doesn’t matter what the House does; the Senate’s gonna throw this down and vote this down no matter what, in which case that may be part of the strategy here.
If the Senate won’t go along, then dump the blame for this on the Democrats over there and go back to rewriting something. But, look, all of these things Trump said… These are really good things. Health savings accounts. That is necessary to try — to at least try — to get some market forces involved to determine pricing. A nationwide insurance market where you can purchase across state lines? That’s huge, and that’s been a big promise of Trump’s throughout the campaign. But in this current Ryan plan, as best I can tell — and I must be honest; I’m not sure.
I’m not gonna say here with ontological certitude as we sit here now what’s in this and what isn’t. But in recent days there were no health savings accounts in the Ryan version. There’s no nationwide insurance market. That’s phase 2 or phase 3. The president also said something about Medicaid. He said letting the states manage Medicaid dollars. But that’s not specified in the Ryan plan. Now, Republican voters, when they heard “repeal and replace,” they heard “repeal and replace.” Repeal means something. You throw it out. You just ditch it.
Because what did the president say? It’s the worst thing ever. It’s an abomination. It’s a disaster! It’s imploding; there’s nothing in it worth keeping. But then the Republicans made a real bonehead play, if you ask me. They kept that provision — because of the political aspects of it — of allowing you to keep your kids on your plan up to the age of 26. Well, that’s great politically, because your kids under age 26 probably can’t afford Skittles, much less health insurance.
But the problem with that is that that age-group is the precise age-group whose money — i.e., buying a health insurance policy — was going to help defray the costs of actual health care for seasoned citizens. And John Cornyn, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, said, “Yeah, you know what? You’re right. We weren’t thinking far enough ahead on that. We weren’t thinking far enough ahead.” You had seven years to be thinking ahead. You weren’t thinking far enough ahead? Amazing.
RUSH: Just a half hour ago Tom Cotton, Republican Senator from Arkansas, released the following statement: “Despite the proposed amendments, I still cannot support the House health-care bill, nor would it pass the Senate.” That, my friends, is a key. I want to take you back to an early analysis of this in mere moments. Back to Mr. Cotton, Senator Cotton’s statement. “The amendments improve the Medicaid reforms in the original bill, but do little to address the core problem of Obamacare: rising premiums and deductibles, which are making insurance unaffordable for too many Arkansans. The House should continue its work on this bill.
“It’s more important to finally get health-care reform right than to get it fast.” In trying to figure out what all is going on with this, we cannot forget the politics of this. It’s wise to keep something in mind here, and I will remind you what it is. If the bill is gonna fail — and, by the way, I need to remind you that it was only late last week that I shared with you in all of my study of this… I mean, it was phenomenal. In practically every article about health care, the presumption was that it was going to fail. It was not that it was gonna fail because Trump’s not good. Trump doesn’t know Washington. Trump doesn’t know this. Trump…
It wasn’t that. It was just the overarching theory was that it was going to fail. It was on that basis, under those auspices that every story seemed to be written about it. And it gave rise in me to a suspicion that this might be an objective, is to have this particular version of the bill fail. But the key to that, if that’s the case, is that it fail in the Senate. It must get out of the House. If it doesn’t get out of the House — and this may be why Trump is so eagerly pushing this. A lot of people think that Trump bit off too big a bite here for his first major legislative achievement.
Because this thing is so complex and so complicated and so convoluted, at least as it’s represented. You know, a great question is, “Well, okay, if we repeal it and just do nothing, what happens?” That is a great question. What then would take place? And we can explore that here in just a second. But if it’s gonna fail, it better not fail in the House, because if it fails the House, guess who gets blamed? The Republicans and Trump. Now, maybe Trump can engineer it in such a way that Ryan and the Republicans in Congress share most of the blame, but that’s out the window because Trump’s now supporting it.
Trump’s up there lobbying for the Ryan version with some amendments. Cotton, Senator Cotton, is not the only person that says this thing doesn’t stand a chance in the Senate. Maybe the design is for it to fail in the Senate, where you have a chance of blaming Democrats for it. ‘Cause it’s gonna need 60 votes because you can’t do all this with reconciliation. There we go the usual Washington-speak, blah, blah, blah. So it’s gonna need 60 votes. If it doesn’t get 60, you blame the Democrats, and you go back to the drawing board. Now, that is kind of bad because I hate… Strong word. I dislike intensely the objective of failure.
But sometimes the weird way politics works is that that can actually result in something better. But this is so convoluted here that it defies, I think, expert political analysis, because there seem to be a bunch of conflicting motivations for getting this done with this bill right now. For example, you hear everybody now starting to say, “If we don’t get this done, you can kiss tax reform good-bye.” And a lot of people would really prefer tax reform to happen than this. It’s a close race, but repealing and replacing Obamacare was a huge promise, a huge part of the Trump campaign.
You know why? Because a majority of American people want it gotten rid of. So whatever status it now has, the conventional wisdom is that it’s going to fail in the Senate. But if it comes out of the House — passes the House — the Republicans can say they took action; they repealed, they reformed, they replaced it, whatever — and then we can have arguments over the actual substance of the bill. But there’s a faction in politics that thinks the objective is met if you just pass it. “To heck with what’s in it. Just pass it!”
This is where Trump enters the picture.
That’s not Trump.
Trump’s not typical politics. Trump’s successes are not gonna be measured by whether it passes or not. Trump is up against a different standard: his own. His standard as an outsider, his standard as somebody who doesn’t mess around with the way Washington usually works. He’s gonna drain that swamp. He’s gonna fix it. We’re gonna get this done, we’re gonna get it done right, and we’re gonna have the best health care bill. It’s gonna be a winning health care bill, the best health care bill any country’s ever had, the best health care any country’s ever had, and we’re gonna get it done.
With that aim, Trump went up to Capitol Hill today to start twisting some arms about this, and he really zeroed in on the Freedom Caucus, the conservative bloc in the House of Representatives. He went up there to (chuckles) really, really urge them to pass his plan. And, according to reports from certain journalists that we tend to believe, Trump’s desire for this to pass is not primarily for what’s in it, but because of the political necessity and the importance to him personally that this thing pass. Now, some people see this and see positives, that Trump is learning the political game, that he’s steadfast, that he knows what he wants, and he’s up there fighting for it.
And it doesn’t matter who’s opposing him, he’s going up against them and is using whatever muscle that the presidency has, plus his own personal stamina and persuasive powers to get this done. It’s up for grabs. Is this Ryancare? Is it Trumpcare? Depends on who you talk to. You know, what name is gonna be on this is also important. Now, the conservatives, the Freedom Caucus, claim leadership doesn’t have the votes to pass this bill unless they get a bunch of Democrats on board. Because they, in the conservative caucus, don’t like it, and they’re not gonna vote for it, and they’re not gonna support it.
And that was stated by Mo Brooks, a Republican from Alabama, when he came out of a meeting where they were briefed on the latest version of the bill. All that’s according to Politico. So, again, we are prisoners to what some in the Drive-Bys are saying about this. I’ve seen two different stories now where Trump called out the leader of the Freedom Caucus — that would be Mark Meadows — by name, and in sort of might-have-been-joking kind of way, warned him that if he actually did vote against this, Meadows, and if the Freedom Caucus voted against this, that Trump was going to come after ’em.
So a lot of people now claim this is the first ideological test for conservatives of the Trump era, and it is Trump versus them. Conservatives, will they hold fast? Will they refuse to support the bill because it isn’t conservative, because it doesn’t contain the promises that were made? For example, there’s nothing in this version about eliminating insurance companies’ restrictions by only selling in certain states. Trump promised to get rid of that restriction and the insurance companies could compete in every state.
That’s not in this bill yet. That’s for phase 2, phase 3. Senator Cotton doesn’t believe there’s gonna be a phase 2 phase 3. You know, that’s just smoke and mirrors. You better put in it what you want right now and go for it, because there isn’t gonna be a second attempt and a third attempt. So we’re back to what… You know, if you want this to lose — and I’m not saying that’s what Trump wants. I think it’d be easy enough to find out, and we will in due course.
But if this thing is gonna lose in the Senate, if that’s what all of the intel says, regardless — ’cause the bill is not gonna be sufficiently changed to satisfy, say, Senator Cotton. So there’s gonna be at least some Republicans in the Senate who are gonna vote against it. If it’s gonna fail there… This is just me. I’m not… I’m not part of this world, so I don’t know whether this is practical or not. But if it’s gonna fail, you know what I would do? I would write the perfect bill.
I’d put everything in it that you want and make sure that if it goes down to defeat, that it’s the Democrats going down. I wouldn’t wait for phase 2 or phase 3. I’d put everything in it. I would genuinely repeal it, start from scratch with a rebuild, put all the things that President Trump promised in the campaign in this version of the bill and go for it, and make them vote against it.
Look, 2008 looms. You can’t take that out. No matter what kind of reformer Trump is, no matter how big an outsider he is, there still are some realities, and that is all these guys run for reelection in less than two years, and a bunch of senators do, and the senators that are up, 25 of them, I think, are in deep trouble already because they are — maybe it’s a total 25, and of the 25 a lot of them are in red states Trump won handily so it would be very risky for them to vote against it if they want to be reelected. Put that pressure on ’em.
You know me; I love bold. Be bold. Go for it. The election returns were all about going for it. But then the unknown, or I should say the unseen aspects of this, way over here, who they are begins with a capital D. They are the donors. And what do they want? And that has a lot to do with what individual members of the House will do and try to do. So there are a lot of hands in the till.
There’s so many intricacies here. What do you do with the Medicaid expansion, you know, the governors out there accepted the Medicaid expansion. Now you gonna pull that away two years early. That wasn’t supposed to happen ’til 2020, now you gonna take it away from ’em 2018, these governors have been promised federal money to help ’em out here, and you gonna take that away. You can’t do that, that’s suicide, that’s political suicide.
Who says you can’t do it? So much of politics seems predicated on what you can’t do. And it seems to me we have a president who violated as many can’t-dos as anybody ever has, and he won. “Well, you can’t do it that way, you can’t say that,” and he did all of those things, and he won. And in the Electoral College he won handily, 31 states in the Electoral College.
So I defy anybody to be able to tell you with ontological certitude where things stand, what’s in the bill, what’s up for grabs, what could be changed. You know, there’s even arguments about who can amend and who can’t and what can be amended and what can’t be amended and so forth. It’s still really, really fluid, but the one thing that seems common in all these stories — you tell me, Mr. Snerdley, if this is what you think — the thing that seems common is that Trump wants this now. In whatever analysis you read, and it differs in terms of some stories right now say the conservative caucus has come around and that they are gonna support it.
Other stories that are published within minutes of that say nope, they’re standing firm, they’re not for it, they’re opposed to it no matter what threats Trump has sent their way. And until people vote you really aren’t gonna know for certain. But the one thing that’s constant in all these stories is that Trump wants this thing and he wants it now and what he wants is essentially the bill that he and Ryan put together that doesn’t contain some of the elements that he signaled as promises during the campaign.
The state line thing is a big one, folks, and the health savings accounts is a big one. Those two are not in this bill. They’re not in this version. And both of those working together are two of the key ingredients to drive down prices. Letting insurance companies sell in any state they want, that’s gonna ramp up competition incredibly. And then the health savings accounts, which takes the money normally would be allocated by the federal money spent for citizen A here, the citizen gets the money in a health savings accounts and goes out and finds his own plan, his own doctor, his own coverage, based on what’s in that account, what he can afford. And the key to it is that what you don’t spend at the end of the year, you get to keep, which argues for going out and shopping and finding the best deal.
And all of this is supposed to lead to levels of competition that have not been seen in the entire health industry, insurance and coverage, in many, many moons. But those two things are not in this. And a lot of people don’t know why. Why can’t you put ’em in? They were the big, fundamental promises during the campaign. They are key to promoting competition, which gets us started, anyway, on the process of maybe bringing some prices down and then making them more sensible.
And the answer you get, “Well, it’s phase 2, it’s phase 3.” Right now we’ve got to repeal Obamacare and we have something up and running to replace it, ’cause the argument also was, well, wait ’til 2018 or 2019 to even replace, just repeal it, let it sit there as it is.
That brings up, okay, what’s the status then? If you repeal it, what does that mean? When you repeal Obamacare, it means everything in it is now off the books. Whatever laws are part of Obamacare are gone. So then what happens? You revert to the most recent laws that Obamacare overwrote or replaced, and if you do, doesn’t that have to be done legislatively? Remember who was supposed to do what, what the laws were, most people got their insurance through their employer.
Well, that was stricken, and now you had to go to an exchange, or now you had to pay a fine. But if you wipe out the exchanges, and if you get rid of the mandate, then health insurance is an elective; you don’t have to have it. Through Obamacare you damn well better have it or your penalty is a fine, maybe jail.
You repeal Obamacare, it’s up to anything else. You want it, go buy it. If you don’t want it, run the risk. Then what happens? Well, then the insurance company enter the picture, and they start selling insurance, but they still got the restrictions they can only sell in certain states.