Senate begins work to repeal ‘ObamaCare’ and to defund Planned Parenthood through the budget reconciliation process

I warned you about this months ago.  The authoritarian Tea-Publcians intend to use the budget reconciliation process to complete the budget that the last Congress failed to pass as the vehicle for repealing the Affordable Care Act aka “ObamamCare” and to give their wealthy benefactors a massive tax cut. They have also now added defunding Planned Parenthood to the reconciliation bill.

The reason for this is that under the budget reconciliation process, it only requires a simple majority vote and there is no filibuster in the Senate. Eddie Munster’s Monstrous Plan for America (snippet):

POLITICO Tiger Beat on The Potomac, reports Ryan plans to steamroll Democrats with budget tool:

If Donald Trump is elected president and Republicans hold onto Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan is bluntly promising to ram a partisan agenda through Capitol Hill next year, with Obamacare repeal and trillion-dollar tax cuts likely at the top of the list. And Democrats would be utterly defenseless to stop them.

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EddieMunsterRyan peeled back the curtain on his strategy at a news conference last week after a reporter suggested he would struggle to implement his ambitious agenda next year. After all, it was noted, Republicans are certain to lack the 60 votes needed in the Senate to break Democratic filibusters on legislation. So Ryan gave a minitutorial on congressional rules and the bazooka in his pocket for the assembled reporters.

“This is our plan for 2017,” Ryan said, waving a copy of his “Better Way” policy agenda. “Much of this you can do through budget reconciliation.” He explained that key pieces are “fiscal in nature,” meaning they can be moved quickly through a budget maneuver that requires a simple majority in the Senate and House. “This is our game plan for 2017,” Ryan said again to the seemingly unconvinced press.

The New York Times has an explainer piece on The Parliamentary Tactic That Could Obliterate Obamacare.

The Times also reports Senate Republicans Open Fight Over Obama Health Law:

ObamacareCongress opened for battle over the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday as Republicans pushed immediately forward to repeal the health care law and President Obama made a rare trip to Capitol Hill to defend it.

The bitterness that has long marked the fight intensified as Republicans seized the opportunity to make good on a central campaign promise to get rid of the law, a pledge reinforced on Wednesday by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who met with House Republicans not far from where the president gathered with Democrats.

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Health policy experts say that system could collapse if Republicans cut off funds for the expanded coverage and end penalties for people who go without health insurance.

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Vice President-elect Mike Pence said that President-elect Donald J. Trump would use his executive authority to help make the transition away from the health care law, but did not offer specifics.

Democrats vowed aggressive resistance, however, and said they would not participate in drawing up a replacement for the law after the swift efforts to unravel it. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the new Democratic leader, playing off Mr. Trump’s campaign slogan, said repealing the law would “make America sick again.”

Republicans are using a procedural approach that will allow them to repeal substantial parts of the health care law without Democrats’ being able to mount a filibuster in the Senate.

By a vote of 51 to 48 on Wednesday, the Senate took the first step, agreeing to take up a budget resolution, or blueprint, that would clear the way for legislation repealing major provisions of the law. But even as Republicans spoke of moving quickly to repeal the law, it remained far less clear how and when they would go about replacing it.

Senate debate on the budget resolution is expected to continue for several days, and the House plans to take up the measure once the Senate has approved it.

As Republicans charged ahead, both sides seemed cognizant of the possible fallout from unwinding the law, which has become deeply enmeshed with America’s health care system and has provided insurance for about 20 million people.

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Mr. Trump predicted that the health care law would “fall of its own weight.” [Only with GOP sabotage of the tax and subsidy provisions.]

Representative Chris Collins of New York, a Republican who is one of Mr. Trump’s top supporters in Congress and is part of his transition team, said it was important to be sure that Democrats bear responsibility for the failings of the health care law. Republicans point out that premiums have risen and that consumers in many places have fewer choices of insurers.

“We have to make sure we keep reminding America, we are repealing it because it failed, we are repealing it because they all but demanded that we repeal it,” Mr. Collins said. “And that was a key piece of Donald Trump’s campaign.”

But as Republicans expressed eagerness to repeal the law, they acknowledged that replacing it would take more time. It is also unclear how insurance companies will react during this period and whether they will continue to offer the marketplace plans that millions of people have come to rely on.

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Democrats signaled little interest in helping Republicans determine what to do after repealing major parts of the health care law.

Mr. Schumer predicted that in a year, Republicans would “regret that they came out so fast out of the box.” He said Democrats would consider working on a replacement only after Republicans presented their own plan.

“If you are repealing, show us what you’ll replace it with first,” Mr. Schumer said. “Then we’ll look at what you have and see what we can do.”

Later, Mr. Schumer said of Mr. Trump, “It’s his and their responsibility, plain and simple — name calling isn’t going to get anything done.” He added, “They really need to calm things down a little.”

Speaker Paul D. Ryan tried to offer assurance that no change in coverage would be abrupt.

“The point is, in 2017, we don’t want people to be caught with nothing,” he said. “We want to make sure that there’s an orderly transition so that the rug is not pulled out from under the families who are currently struggling under Obamacare while we bring relief.”

Mr. Obama huddled with congressional Democrats for about 90 minutes in what was billed by the White House as a strategy session to forge a unified Democratic response to the Republicans’ rollback effort.

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Mr. Obama, for his part, did not ask his allies to block all efforts to alter the law, but warned Democrats against “rescuing” Republicans by defecting on votes that would dismantle it.

Democrats are making a pointless Appeal for Compromise: Alter, but Don’t Gut, the Health Law:

With Republican leaders pressing to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, possibly within weeks, moderate Senate Democrats reached out on Thursday to Republicans, appealing for them to slow down the repeal efforts and let lawmakers try to find acceptable, bipartisan changes to make the existing law work better.

I Love Planned ParenthoodDemocrats also had new reason to hope for possible Republican defections after Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said that the repeal measure would cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood. But for now, Republican leaders are holding firm. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, denounced the law, President Obama’s signature domestic achievement, as “a lesson to future generations about how not to legislate.”

Well before Republicans seized control of Washington, moderate Democrats and Republicans in the Senate had begun exploring ways to change the law, tempering its impacts on small business, seeking lower-cost insurance options and changing how quickly subsidies to help purchase insurance policies would phase out with rising incomes.

But those efforts were stymied by Republican leaders who had no interest in improving the health law and by Democratic leaders who saw reopening the law as a political Pandora’s box. Now, Democrats have every interest in opening that box as repeal efforts barrel forward, and they would need to peel off only a few Senate Republicans to slow the fast-track repeal movement.

A possible pressure point is the effort to end funding for Planned Parenthood in the same measure that guts the health law. Already, that has raised questions about the support of two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

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“There’s so much we can improve, but by pushing an immediate repeal through a partisan budget process, we won’t have the opportunity to work together to build on that common ground,” said Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, who led the group of Democrats who reached out to Republican leaders, said on Thursday.

Senate Republicans plan to muscle through a budget blueprint next week that clears the way for the repeal of major parts of the Affordable Care Act without the prospect of a Democratic filibuster. The House plans to take up the blueprint as soon as the Senate approves it.

House and Senate committees would then have until Jan. 27 to produce legislation that eviscerates a law that has extended health coverage to 20 million Americans and protected millions more from discriminatory insurance practices. But it has also been plagued by rising premiums and limited insurance company participation.

If Republicans succeed in gutting the law, they would need Democratic help to find a replacement, because the Republicans’ narrow Senate majority would surely face a filibuster of a partisan health bill.

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But the effort to quickly undo a law that cost the Democrats so much effort and political capital could poison any chance of cooperation later this year.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said on Thursday that Mr. McConnell and his colleagues have two options. One, he said, is for Republicans to devise a plan on their own to replace the health care law.

“Or don’t repeal and come talk to us about how to make some improvements,” Mr. Schumer said. “We’re willing to do that.”

For now, though, Republican leaders are in no mood to compromise. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, dismissed the appeal from the group of Democrats as an “act of desperation.”

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The request for Republicans to slow down and work with them on changing the health care law came in a letter from 13 senators — 12 Democrats and an independent, Angus King of Maine.

Moderate Democrats for years have been suggesting changes in the Affordable Care Act, based in part on complaints they were hearing from constituents.

As a possible model for bipartisan cooperation, senators pointed to a bill signed by Mr. Obama in October 2015 that protected small and midsize businesses from increases in health insurance premiums. Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, and Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, led efforts to pass that bill. Ms. Shaheen also signed Mr. Kaine’s letter.

White House officials said Mr. Obama did not particularly like that legislation but signed it after it won broad bipartisan support.

As Republicans moved ahead with their plans for repeal, the Planned Parenthood issue began picking up steam after Mr. Ryan said on Thursday that the health law repeal measure would cut off funds for the organization.

Such a provision could trouble moderate Senate Republicans whose votes are critical to passing repeal legislation.

“Yes, I’d have concerns,” Ms. Murkowski said. “I’ve long been a supporter of Planned Parenthood.” But Ms. Murkowski said she did not know, without seeing a bill, if cutting the funding would be enough to cause her to vote against the health care repeal.

In 2015, Ms. Collins voted against a repeal bill because it would have cut off funds for Planned Parenthood. She expressed hope on Thursday that such a provision would not be in the repeal legislation this year.

In another possible trouble spot, members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus met on Thursday with Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, about the budget blueprint, weighing the possibility of opposing the measure because of its increases in federal spending and debt.

The group of conservatives has a history of opposing spending measures, often against the wishes of their party’s leaders. Mr. Paul has said he will not support the budget blueprint because it would allow the government to add trillions of dollars to the federal debt in the coming decade.

This is a rare instance in which Senator “Aqua Buddha” is correct. Repealing Obamacare will cost the federal government as much as $350 billion, according to a new estimate from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget. CNBC reports, Here’s how GOP repeal of Obamacare would swell the federal deficit:

Repealing Obamacare will cost the federal government as much as $350 billion, according to a new estimate.

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“Repealing the entire ACA would leave no funds available for ‘replace’ legislation, and in fact would require further deficit reduction to avoid adding to the debt,” the report said.

Most of the law’s opponents have focused on the added cost of subsidizing health insurance. But the law also includes dozens of provisions that cut health care and raise taxes that more than offset the money spent.

Despite the GOP’s steadfast opposition to the law, that net cost of repealing it could give pause to the party’s fiscal hawks on Capitol Hill.

The new analysis looks only at the net cost to the federal government and doesn’t take into account the far bigger economic impact on insurers, hospitals, doctors, drug companies and other parts of the sprawling American health system. Nor does its estimate include the financial impact on the roughly 23 million Americans who, the group estimates, would lose coverage if the ACA is fully repealed and not replaced.

As Dick Cheney sarcastically pointed out, “Ronald Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter,” especially to evil GOP bastards hellbent on pursuing their ideologically extremist goals of taking health care away from millions of Americans and defunding Planned Parenthood care for millions of American women.

5 responses to “Senate begins work to repeal ‘ObamaCare’ and to defund Planned Parenthood through the budget reconciliation process

  1. Arthur Machado

    The money is staying in the women’s health system, just not going to Planned Parenthood. So this is just untrue. If Planned Parenthood cared so much they could keep the money and stop doing abortions. You know why they won’t? Because 28% of their income comes from abortions.

  2. Senator John Kavanagh

    Obamacare was passed using reconciliation. “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      If Obamacare is repealed without q replacement, the most likely scenario, millions of Americans will die without access to medical care. And you can celebrate their deaths with their blood on your hands, you disgusting ideological extremist.

      • Arthur Machado

        As I sit here with a neck injury I can’t get surgery for because my $13,000 ACA deductible means the surgery will not be covered. No one who needs care will fail to get it. This is a canard. And most people like me will save money.

        And as stated earlier you pushed this abortion on us using reconciliation so complaining now is disingenuous.

  3. For Sure Not Tom

    So, the people who want to defund/destroy Planned Parenthood are ready to adopt all them babies?

    They’re going to re-direct Planned Parenthood funding to social programs for all them new babies?

    They’re going to pay for treating the millions of STD patients that will result from lack of education and access to birth control?

    They’re going to repeal and replace Planned Parenthood with something better, so women will still get access to other 97% of what Planned Parenthood does?

    Oh, yeah, and for the men that Planned Parenthood helps, too.

    Nope. Religious zealots want to punish people for doing what people do, and punish the children of people who do what people do, and shut your mouth if you want to teach children about their bodies.

    They want to force their views on the whole world.

    The American version of the Taliban.