The far right and powerful Freedom Caucus. The very far right and very powerful Heritage Foundation. The AARP. The American Medical Association. The American Hospital Association and at least 54 United States Senators. What do they all have in common? They all have expressed vehement opposition to the American Health Care Act, the Obamacare replacement House Speaker Paul Ryan has been trying to sell for the past week.
The origin of this opposition stems from a myriad of issues with the plan. But instead of bringing these numerous factions together to get the best bill possible, Ryan and House GOP leaders are somehow still going ahead with no changes made to the bill, and have disregarded anyone who has any opposition to it. This is incredibly problematic for a variety of reasons.
For the time that Ryan has been at the helm of the House GOP healthcare plan pitch, we have witnessed a Speaker who lacks both accountability and awareness of reality. Worse, we have witnessed someone who appears to be way in over their head. I don’t know if any of Trump’s delusions have rubbed off on Ryan, but how in the world does he expect this bill to go to Trump’s desk with all of this opposition to it?
Once upon a time, I thought so highly of Speaker Ryan that I used my precious college newspaper column space to laud him on his ascension to the speakership. I talked about his willingness to work with those in his party to form a more united GOP. I talked about how his deal-making abilities and knowledge of budgets and economics could one day make him a very powerful and effective Speaker of the House.
I cannot believe how wrong I was.
His efforts to sell the American Health Care Act have been a combination puzzling and disappointing. So much so that at one point it caused Tucker Carlson to short circuit and stare in astonishment as Ryan tried to word salad his way out of taking responsibility for this potentially catastrophic bill. On CBS’ Face the Nation, Ryan said he did not know how many people would lose coverage under his health plan, aka something that’s very important to figure out before going on a media tour to tout said plan. He also mentioned how unfair it was to compare this bill to Obamacare. I don’t know about that, Mr. Speaker. Last time I checked, Obamacare was the health plan we have as of now. How could it be at all unfair to compare it to what you want to replace it with?
Ryan and the GOP talk about how Obamacare was pushed down their throats. But many of them seem to forget that it took over 14 months from when Obama took office to when he actually signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. The GOP wants Obamacare repealed as soon as possible and it seems by no later than the end of April. If Obamacare was “stuffed down our throats,” then the American Health Care Act is looking like it’s going to be “shot out of a cannon headed straight towards our collective faces.” Ryan has been at the helm of this operation from day one. He has got to notice how hypocritical it is to try to pass a bill at warp speed when he at one point criticized the opposition for doing it at a far less accelerated rate.
What’s become increasingly apparent with Speaker Ryan is that he is shirking responsibilities not only to his district in Janesville, but to Republicans in both the Senate and House. He’s been all over TV defending this bill, yet still hasn’t come back home to hold a townhall meeting. It’s not like his constituents hate him. Six years ago they gave him a standing ovation at one of his townhalls. But it’s very telling that he’s trying to rationalize this bill to everyone except the very people who’ve sent him back to congress by wide margins for the past 18 years. It’s honestly an exhibition of downright cowardice that he has not taken time to meet face-to-face with his constituents about his role in crafting this bill.
Speaker Ryan and I reside on vastly different ends of the political spectrum. But despite those differences, I thought of Ryan as someone who had the best interests of Americans at heart. Unfortunately, after his actions this past week, I no longer believe this to be the case. How else do you explain him sending a deeply flawed bill to a vote in a fraction of the time it took to pass Obamacare?
It seems Speaker Ryan cares neither about the flaws in this bill, nor the negative impact it could have on those who voted for our current president. I understand the urgency with which Ryan wants to get rid of Obamacare, but quite frankly it’s time to put up something of substance or shut up. The writing’s on the wall, Mr. Speaker. It’s high time you and the rest of the GOP House leadership go back to the drawing board and actually come up with a bill that won’t add substantially to the deficit, raise premiums through the roof and kick tens of millions off coverage.