RUSH: Chuck, Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Glad you called, sir. You’re up first on Open Line Friday today. Hi.
CALLER: Well, thank you, sir. Two things. Number one, thank you for your leukemia efforts, and number two, you mentioned separation of powers. Before I talked to you, I was on Hillsdale College look at one of their videos.
CALLER: My question is, I am totally confused about this Republican plan. I hear things like premiums, I hear things like deductibles, I hear things like the list of things that are eligible or essential items to be included. Sounds to me like it’s just Obamacare, and I’m totally disappointed. I’d also like to know, where are we gonna get our insurance? Is it gonna be a government market again? That’s what it sounds like. And lastly, and I don’t know if anybody’s ever touched on this, do the members of Congress have to be on the same plan? I’ll listen to your answer.
RUSH: Well, that last question, I don’t know. Frankly, that is not of paramount interest to me now. Your other questions are far more fascinating and interesting. Now, you think that what’s being discussed here is just like Obamacare. It’s the same this, it’s the same that, it doesn’t get rid of that. You gotta pass some of it to find out what’s in it. That story is even out there… Have you seen that? (snorts) Talk about history repeating itself?
Sometimes you just throw up your hands and say, “What the hell are we doing here? What do you mean, ‘We have to pass this to find out what’s in it’?” There’s actually a couple of Republican congressman out there saying that now! Don’t think that’s not (snorts) coincidental. (laughing) “We have to pass it to find out what’s in it,” throwing back with Pelosi. Chuck, let me run something by you. Let me tell you some things about this that are being said about it, and tell me if you’ve heard this, if you believe it. Are you still with me?
CALLER: I’m with you.
RUSH: Okay. This first version of Obamacare improves Medicaid, it expands health savings accounts, it reintroduces market forces into the system, it repeals a bunch of taxes and — down the line — will reduce the federal debt by hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars. Have you heard that, and do you believe it?
CALLER: I’ve heard those things, and I want to believe it.
RUSH: Well —
CALLER: I’m not so sure that I believe it right now. I haven’t seen the evidence of it.
RUSH: Here’s what I understand is going on. And I by no means lay claim to understandings all of this because I think it’s like many other things. I don’t think there’s maybe even one person who understands all of it, but I think —
CALLER: Yeah, but you’re the closest.
RUSH: Well, I don’t know. You tell me when I finish here.
RUSH: I’m just — ’cause I’m just gonna tell you what I think is going on. I’ve listened to enough people talk now, and I’ve heard objections. “Why don’t we just…?” Here’s what I hear: “Load the bill up with everything you want. If you think it’s gonna die anyway in the Senate, load it up with everything you want, get on the record for really repealing it and really replacing it, and send it over there and let the Senate be responsible for it going down.”
CALLER: I’ve heard that.
RUSH: Yeah. That’s a theory of Dr. Krauthammer’s. But that’s not what’s going on here. The people behind this actually want this to work, and they’ve got three phases. Remember in Obamacare the, what is it, 20,000-some-odd pages? The real power to make changes and reforms and implement things is the secretary of Health and Human Services.
RUSH: On so many pages you will read, “As the secretary so directs,” “as the secretary shall dictate,” “as the secretary shall…” So the plan here, this is just step one. This does not attempt to repeal it. This does not attempt to replace it, because there are three phases here. You pass this — as much of it as you can — using budget reconciliation, 51 votes. After this phase is passed, then Tom Price is gonna go to town ripping all Obama EDH’s out.
All of the explicit Obamacare health “benefits” that have raised prices, mandated this, are gonna be ripped out “as the secretary may determine, shall determine.” They want to leave it intact to the extent that Tom Price can rip the hell out of it as the bill allows him to do. After that, phase 3 gets rid of the proscription against insurance companies not being able to sell policies across state lines. I have to take a break here. I’m not finished answering your question. This is the best summation of what I’ve heard from people who really believe it.
RUSH: Still bouncing off our last caller. Our last caller heard — as many people have — and it’s been reported that the Obamacare repeal and replace is nothing more than Obamacare light. “It’s disastrous. It doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t do anything about prices. It’s screwy. Why would anybody want to pass it? It’s silly.” I think some people have not done a… (sigh) I was gonna say, “I think some people have not done a good job of selling this.” I think the right way to say this is, “A lot of people have done a very good job misrepresenting it,” and I think we always…
Folks, I hate to have to say this. I hate to have to know that this is true and deal with it, but we still have to acknowledge that the opposition of Donald Trump on Capitol Hill has no boundaries. People of, you know, all three sexual orientations, both political parties, House and Senate, think tanks, banks, you name it. And because of all this, I have really undertaken an effort to understand what they’re trying to do with this, the people that believe in it. I was just starting to explain it to the caller who called and said, “I don’t understand why they…
“This thing should have never seen the light of day. Everything I’m hearing about it it’s Obamacare light.” And I said, “What if I told you that this bill tremendously improves Medicaid, expands health savings accounts, reintroduces — not totally, but gets the ball rolling on reintroducing — market forces into the system via the health savings accounts, repeals a bunch of taxes and mandates, and reduces the federal debt as a first step?” Have you heard that? If you heard that’s what’s in it, based on everything else you’ve heard, would you believe it?
As I understand it, this is what the people who want this to happen — whoever they are — be it the president, Paul Ryan… I don’t know the people who do and don’t want this to happen, but the architects of this — and I would put Vice President Pence in the circle of people that have designed this. One of the arguments or questions that people have is, “Why are there three phases?” Why don’t we just repeal it and replace it in one fell swoop? Just send a repeal bill up like they did six times! And I’ve asked that question.
The answer I’ve gotten is that it’s not the responsible way to do it because there’s an opportunity here to do a lot of really good things, but we can’t do it all at once, and we’re gonna have trouble doing it anyway because of the makeup in the Senate where there are only 52 Republican votes. So just in a brief outline fashion, as it’s been explained to me, the objective here is first to have this bill that’s being voted on (maybe today) in the House, passed, and get sent to the Senate. Understanding that this is not the bill that’s gonna be sent to the president to sign, understanding that this is not the final form.
This is just getting the ball rolling. That the people behind this are not naive enough to think that the first bill they write and submit is gonna be signed off on by everybody, survive a conference committee meeting, and be sent to the president. It’s gonna undergo massive changes, and it may not pass out of the Senate anyway. But the objective is to actually fix the problem with the realization that the fix cannot occur overnight because our health care circumstance right now is the result of at least 50 years of incremental government meddling.
Not to say it’s gonna take 50 years to stop it or to replace it or overturn it, but it’s not something that can be done overnight. And the key is to leave enough of Obamacare intact to empower our Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, to extract a bunch of things as permitted by the law that the Obama people put in that didn’t get put in as part of the original legislation. One of the things about the original Obamacare bill was it left the discretion on much of the health benefits and the taxes and any number of things up to the secretary — in this case, the secretary of Health and Human Services.
The people behind this bill want to be able to use those provisions to strip it bare, to take those things out. What kind of things am I talking about? Well, just in an article I think from… I’m not sure. It’s USA Today. “The GOP bill would eliminate the Obama statute’s unpopular fines on those who do not obtain coverage and the often generous subsidies…” It doesn’t eliminate subsidies. It eliminates these out of control not based-in-reality subsidies that were used to buy support or buy votes! “Republican tax credits would be based on age, not income.
“The bill would also end Obama’s Medicaid expansion and trim future federal financing for the federal-state program and let states impose work requirements on some of its 70 million beneficiaries. … House leaders proposed a fresh amendment — to be voted on [today] — repealing Obama’s requirement that insurers cover 10 specified services like maternity and mental health care.” These are among the things they want Tom Price to pull out, these 10 specified services that Obama made insurance companies cover for everybody, which raised premiums.
What if you’re a guy and you don’t need maternal leave? You have to buy it anyway under Obamacare. It gets factored into what the insurance company charges you because Obama put in that it’s mandatory, and he didn’t put in mandatory only for pregnant women, just for everybody. It ran everybody’s premiums up. Same thing with mental health care. What if you don’t need it? Doesn’t matter! You’re buying it. No matter what your age, no matter what your mental condition, no matter what your health status, you have to buy mental health.
There are countless other little things like that that the Obamacare law imposes on people that Kathleen Sebelius just, by design, implemented because the bill, Obamacare, granted her the discretion to do so. Maternity leave for men is one glaring example. But there are tons of things like that. Now, the objective is to get this bill passed. I should tell you, by the way… I don’t know if this is gonna mean anything to you. Grover Norquist, who is the head honcho for Americans for Tax Reform… (interruption) You’re not looking like you have a whole lot of… (interruption)
When I say that name, you’re not beaming in there. What do you think…? (interruption) Why not? (interruption) What’s the…? (interruption) Well, just tell me. I mean, one or two… (interruption) Well, I know, but why? Why? (interruption) Oh, well, I know he said something about me. See, that’s… Grover will fundraise off me and then criticize me after he’s raised the money. But that doesn’t matter. That’s part and parcel of being up here and everybody else shooting at you from down there. Anyway, Nyquist — I’m sorry, Norquist — has said in his analysis that this bill cuts a trillion dollars in taxes over 10 years, and it cuts a trillion dollars in spending over a decade.
Grover Norquist says that this version that may or may not be voted on today contains the biggest tax cut since Reagan.
“The Tea Party Express…” This from TheHill.com: “The Tea Party Express has decided to back the GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare hours before a pivotal vote in the House. ‘Admittedly, this is far from a perfect repeal, and no conservative would propose this if it weren’t for the reality of the obstructionist Democrats in the Senate,’ Tea Party Express co-founder Sal Russo wrote in a Medium post explaining the decision. The former staffer to President Ronald Reagan went on to paraphrase the conservative president’s approach to negotiations with Democrats: If they offer you half a loaf, what do you do? You take half a loaf and then you come back for more.”
That is apparently the thinking here. Not just from the Tea Party, but I’m talking about the Trump White House and everybody involved in trying to get this done. The thing like for the Freedom Caucus guys, the conservative caucus in the House that’s dead sent against this and supposedly they’re 20 to 25, maybe 27 votes opposing it, the way they’re being sold, the way they’re being pitched is, “Hey, look, guys, this is just the first vote, and it’s not by any stretch the bill that’s gonna end up anywhere. This gets the ball rolling. If we don’t get the ball rolling, we’re not gonna get anything. If we don’t get the ball rolling on this, we’re gonna get nothing.”
They are countering by saying, “Yeah, but if you don’t have a bunch of conservative things that form a foundation in this, then they’re never gonna get in there.” And, traditionally, they’re right about that. The Congress is not a conservative institution. So these guys are holding out for getting as much of a conservative foundation on which to build in the bill.
The Tea Party Express coming along, these are the people that there wasn’t a specific Tea Party leader, there wasn’t a specific Tea Party, but the Tea Party, keep in mind, sprung to life because of Obamacare and Obama’s just runaway spending which scared the heck out of them for the future of their kids and their grandkids, running up this debt so rapidly that it was obscene. So they have come around here, said, “We will continue to support the efforts of conservatives to improve the bill and to advance the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. But regardless of the outcome of specific amendments, we must all keep Reagan’s advice in mind and plan on going back for more.”
Now, I know, a lot of you are gonna say that’s a cop-out because we’re never gonna go back for more. And you’re remembering Senator Cotton from Arkansas, there isn’t gonna be phase 2, there isn’t gonna be phase 3. Well, the people who are really pushing this believe there will be. It is their absolute intention for there to be. Vice President Pence I know desperately wants this fixed and gotten rid of. Getting rid of the restriction on insurance companies not being able to sell nationally, that would be a huge thing.
And of course this gets in the weeds here, but what can you pass with budget reconciliation and what can you not, legally? And this involves the Senate parliamentarian ruling on what you can and can’t do under reconciliation. And reconciliation is short for budget reconciliation, and because the budget has to be passed, it is exempt from the 60-vote rule in the Senate. So you try to get as much as you can, much of Obamacare was passed through reconciliation because they were never gonna get 60 votes for it, even on the Democrat side.
So what was used for reconciliation to pass it is going to be used in this bill to get rid of it. But that’s still gonna leave a lot of things that are untouched, and that’s where the secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, comes into the picture and starts just eliminating things that were added by Kathleen Sebelius and others during the Obama administration. And that’s as best as I understand it, that is a first step.
Nobody’s trying to sell it as perfect. Nobody’s trying to sell it as thoroughbred conservative. Nobody’s trying to sell it as we repeal and replace Obamacare with this bill, because it doesn’t happen. It still has to go to the Senate where it may well die. The Democrats, as you know, never get mentioned in this. They are never reported on. They’re never discussed. They are never considered factors in any of this, and the reason for that is that the media and everybody else wants this to crumble and they want it to fall apart and they want all of that to be on the Republicans.
They would love for Trump and Ryan to take control of this and have it bomb out just like Obamacare did, but when that happens it’s no longer Obamacare; it’s either Ryancare or Trumpcare. There’s also that aspect of it too, that the Democrats don’t want it to succeed. Now we’re back to the substance has nothing to do with it, it’s just the horse race.
RUSH: No, no. I understand. There are a lot of people who think, “Hey, we won the election. Trump won the election. The conservatives won. Why don’t we just come up with the perfect repeal and replace bill? We run the show. We run the town. Why don’t we just come up with that and send it up there and make them vote against it?”
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the conservatives do not run Capitol Hill. Can I be blunt here about something? How many members of the House of Representatives do the Republicans have, what’s the number? What’s the number, 200, 230? I don’t need the exact number, but it’s over 200, right? How many in the Freedom Caucus, how many admitted conservatives?
Thirty that are in this group, 30, 35. You would think that if this were conservative it would be all of them in the Freedom Caucus. I know we gotta have some RINOs in there, some moderates, but not even half of the place has people who will join a conservative caucus. I mean, the numbers are the numbers. That’s why I said, “Look, all that’s happened here is we won an election in November.”
Jim in Oelwein, Iowa. Great to have you on the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Hey, Rush.
CALLER: Longtime listener. My wife, Dawn, has been a longer time listener than me, but I listen along with her, too, so —
RUSH: I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
CALLER: I’m just kind of wondering, I’m one of the frustrated multitude when it comes to this whole health care thing. Why can it not just go back to normal competition like everything else? Just a quick history. I worked for a company for over 28 years, had a group health insurance, retired in about 2010, and I was paying about $700 out of my checks toward health care. When I left, they offered me COBRA, which is their replacement, saying, oh, you can be on your own health care but just have to pay for it —
CALLER: — for $1,400, so —
RUSH: I had to do that, too. I had to do COBRA. Yeah. When I moved to New York, I had to do COBRA.
CALLER: But mine was ridiculously twice as much as I was paying before, so I said, “This is stupid.” So I shopped online and made some phone calls, got insurance for a family of five, very basic but, you know, good covered plan for about $380 a month. Later that year my wife and I tried to get together a business, she used to be in the business of processing health insurance care claims so said, “Let’s get into that.”
So we formed a company, started visiting all these doctors. That’s about the time Obamacare really started coming into place. And most of the older doctors were saying before this officially comes, you know, that they have to go under it, they were gonna retire. They knew then this was gonna be bad. Socialized medicine as a whole has never worked anywhere in the world.
RUSH: Yes, it has. Yes, it has. Yes, it has. That’s the point. It’s not worked for you, but it’s worked for the tyrants.
RUSH: Now, on this selling insurance across state lines, this is the one thing I don’t understand. I haven’t had anybody explain to me why is this has to be the last thing done, and be in so-called phase 3. I don’t know why it can’t be here in phase 1. I’ve asked, and the answers I’ve gotten have been gobbledygook. They’ve ranged from, “Well, insurance is a powerful lobby up here and…” Well, why wouldn’t they want to be able to sell across state lines? “Because, Rush, they’ve got in-state monopolies and they’re big donors.” Okay, but at some point either now or phase 2 or phase 3, this is gonna have to end.
The whole objective here is to lower prices, would everybody agree? The whole objective is to lower prices. If the mandates for coverage are done away with… In other words, if you, by law, have to have coverage, and the insurance companies cannot compete across state lines and have in-state monopolies, then there’s no competition for price reduction. They can charge whatever they want if you have to buy it! If you have no choice, if you have no alternative company to buy from, if there’s only one or two companies in your state — and Obamacare mandates you to have insurance — you’re stuck, folks.
There is nothing that’s going to bring prices down.
They’re gonna continue to go up.
That is part and parcel of the problem with monopolies.
But that’s not the only mandate. The first mandate is for coverage. Then there is a requirement to buy insurance. Now, you might think they’re the same thing, and they arguably might be. But the law, the mandate, involves a penalty if you fail to comply. It’s a financial penalty. Originally, they were gonna put you in jail! They wanted the option to put you in jail, under Obamacare, if you didn’t buy insurance. So the mandate that you buy it and then the requirement that you buy insurance, if those two things are erased — if you don’t have to buy it — then the people selling it are gonna have to make it attractive to you.
Now, they know you want it because it’s health care and you don’t want to be left hanging should a catastrophe happen. But it’s a far cry from being forced to. This is why the insurance companies signed on to Obamacare first! It was the greatest godsend they’d ever had. Imagine if Congress passed a law maintaining every man, woman, and child buy an iPhone. A, what do you think they would cost, and, B, what would you say of the requirement? What if you don’t like Apple? What if you want a Samsung? What if you want some cheap flip phone or something?
“Sorry, you have to buy an iPhone.”
This is like what Obamacare did. You eliminate that, and by eliminating the mandate automatically, prices are gonna come down. Then you eliminate the requirement to purchase insurance. Well, then the people that sell it are gonna have to make it more attractive. The thing I don’t understand… I haven’t had anybody explain this to me in a satisfactory way, and I probably haven’t asked enough people. I don’t know why eliminating the “cannot sell across state lines” isn’t done right now. There may be a good economic reason for it. There may be a responsible economic reason.
There may be a political reason: The insurance companies are big donors and lobbyists and so forth. But I think… See, I think something like that you put in this bill, and that sweetens the pot over in the Senate and makes it much more attractive and makes the public much more supportive of it, if you put that in there, then eliminate this business that insurance companies can only sell in certain states. But there’s a reason. I just… As I say, I haven’t had it explained to me in a way that I understand. But it’s in the plan. It’s in the plan for way down the line, phase 2 or phase 3. Now, I do know this.
One of the groups who do not want insurance to be sold across state lines is state insurance commissions and commissioners. Bureaucrats. They have a lot of power if there’s only one or two insurance companies in their state — and in many states, the people who live there only have one insurance company now. The insurance companies are fleeing Obamacare left and right, in droves. And there are a lot of people this country who only have one insurance company. And the state insurance commission and commissioners have a lot of power.
And they’re opposed to anything that would limit or water down their power in a lot of ways.
RUSH: Coen or Colin? I can’t tell which. In Poughkeepsie. Coen is Poughkeepsie. How you doing, sir?
CALLER: Pretty good. I was told to make this quick, so I want to know what happens in four years’ time if the Democrats regain the presidency, all the stuff they say they’re gonna take out of the Obamacare is gonna be just put back in, so we have to do it now. They gotta just —
RUSH: That’s an excellent question. Let me ‘splain what he means. It’s an excellent question. In the three phase or multiphase process, phase 1 here, the reason you can’t send a clean bill over there, let me just tell you flat-out, the reason that they say, in the House, that they can’t do a clean repeal, just send the bill, “We are repealing Obamacare,” send it to the Senate, is the Senate is a completely different functioning thing.
There’s reconciliation; there’s filibusters; there’s rules on the fly, rules made on the go that involve the parliamentarian over what you can do here; and as much of that as can be anticipated has been put into this first effort to make it as smooth as possible in the Senate, knowing full well it isn’t gonna be.
Now, as to the question here — he’s very astute — it’s a very astute question. He’s, okay, look, they get into phase 2, and then they have our secretary of Health and Human Services pull out those drastic Obamacare restrictions, yank ’em out. His question is, what happens if we lose in 2020, the Democrats win, we haven’t repealed all of Obamacare, and a new Health and Human Services secretary just puts all that stuff and more back in.
Well, that is one of the arguments that the Freedom Caucus is making in their opposition to the bill. If you’re gonna have ’em pulled out, if you’re gonna do this so that the secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, can pull all those things out that Sebelius and Obama put in there, why not make that official as part of legislation so it’s done with?
The answer is, that will happen either in phase 2 or phase 3. But they’re afraid that if they go for that in phase 1, that the Senate is gonna automatically reject it as DOA and it dies. And they want the opportunity, at least, for Price to be able to strip this thing naked. Now, admittedly, their plan is multiphased. You’ve heard them say it. They’re standing by it. There have been all kinds of helpful suggestions to do this in one swoop, forget this 2 and 3 phase business.
Tom Cotton, Senator from Arkansas, says you all are smoking something if you think there’s gonna be a phase 2 or phase 3. He’s of the opinion that the people in the House just want this passed and they’re done. They’ve washed their hands with it, mission accomplished, and no more. Well, that may be the attitude of the House, but I don’t think that’s the attitude of the Trump administration.
The Trump administration is not just Trump. There’s somebody over there named Mike Pence who is as thoroughbred a conservative as you can find, and there are other people in there who want this obliterated. But they just don’t think it can be done in one clean, “Hey, Senate, here’s a bill, we just passed it, that totally wipes out Obamacare, sign this thing, pass it, so we can send it up to Trump.” They don’t think that’s gonna happen. And they’re probably right.
RUSH: So I think our guys are planning on not losing in 2020, number one, and I think they’re also planning on, A, an eventual full repeal and replacement rewrite of Obamacare.