The sordid history of the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) can be traced back to PolitiFact’s 2013 Lie of the Year: “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it.”
President Obama’s now-infamous broken promise is cited as one of the many reasons why Democrats lost control of the House in 2010, and the Senate in 2014. Republicans also made major gains in state legislative chambers and governorships by campaigning on a promise to “repeal” the ACA.
Ironically, Obama’s signature legislation may have even helped elect his bitter rival, Donald Trump.
Last summer, POLITICO’s Paul Demko reported that many consumers would experience “large rate increases for the first time Nov. 1 — a week before they go to the polls.” Sure enough, average Obamacare insurance rates rose by 22 percent a week before election day.
As everyday Americans suffer under the burdensome healthcare law, Republican lawmakers are beginning to walk back a 7-year promise.
It all started shortly after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law.
In 2009, the Pelosi-Reid healthcare bills were rammed through Congress along strict party lines. Unable to prevent the Democrats from reshaping America’s health insurance landscape, Republicans urged voters to give them back control of the government.
In Oct. 2010, before the midterm elections, then-Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) assured voters that Republicans would do everything within their power to stop elements of the Obama administration’s agenda, including repealing the Affordable Care Act, if they were able to win back seats in Congress.
“I just have to think that with greater numbers in the Senate, and potentially taking over the House, we’re just going to be in a much stronger position,” Kyl said at the time.
But that apparently wasn’t sufficient; Republican lawmakers urged voters to give them control of the Senate, too. Despite gaining six seats in the Senate in 2010, the Republican Party told voters to wait patiently for the next election.
Then Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012, which helped down-ballot Democrats win. Republicans lost eight seats in the House — narrowly holding on to their majority — and two seats in the Senate. It looked like the Republican Party was back to square one.
Incensed by their party’s ineffectiveness, conservatives were more determined than ever to give their party a strong majority in both houses of Congress. They assumed that would be enough of a mandate for Republicans to get something productive accomplished. Sadly, they were wrong.
In 2012, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that Republicans could use a process called “reconciliation” to repeal Obamacare with only 51 votes.
“Yes, the chief justice said it is a tax, and taxes are clearly what we call reconcilable,” McConnell said. “That’s the kind of measure that can be pursued with 51 votes in the Senate. And if I’m the leader of the majority next year, I commit to the American people that the repeal of Obamacare will be job one.”
McConnell added that “in terms of achieving it, it would take a different Senate with a different majority leader and a different president.” However, he assured voters that it could ultimately be accomplished “with a simple 51 votes.”
Then, in October 2014, one month before voters would deliver the Senate back to the GOP, McConnell tempered expectations for repealing Obamacare.
Asked by Fox News host Neil Cavuto if he’d push for “defunding and getting rid of the Affordable Care Act” as majority leader, McConnell offered a tepid response.
“Well, it’s the top of my list, but remember who’s in the White House for two more years. Obviously, he’s not going to sign a full repeal,” McConnell said. “It would take 60 votes in the Senate. Nobody thinks we’re going to have 60 Republicans. And it would take a president — presidential signature. No one thinks we’re going to get that.”
McConnell threatened to discourage voters by announcing that it required 60 votes to even pass a bill — which was a lie. Thankfully, the American people ignored him.
Disregarding McConnell’s defeatist mentality, voters went to the polls and delivered control of the Senate back to Republicans.
But voters still faced a Democratic president who refused to sign any form of a repeal law. Again, Republicans showed that they were incapable of fulfilling their core promise to voters — five years after the passage of Obamacare.
Then Donald Trump came along.
The New York celebrity businessman instantly connected with voters who felt they had been forgotten by the very politicians sent to Washington to represent them. Throughout the GOP primaries, all 17 Republican candidates vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare — but voters only had ears for Trump. The American people knew this was their best shot to send a personal message to the elites: if you lie to us, we will punish you.
Unfortunately, many Republicans in Washington are acting like they didn’t receive the message.
In 2015, the House and Senate passed H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act. This law would have repealed most of Obamacare — which explains why President Obama quickly vetoed it.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Republicans on Capitol Hill are now actually squabbling over whether or not to repeal Obamacare. With no excuses left for why they can’t fulfill their promises, GOP members of Congress are suddenly proposing healthcare bills that strangely resemble the one Democrats passed eight years ago.
In 2009, Democrats lied to Americans by telling them that they could keep their insurance plans and doctors. Today, Republicans are lying by preserving the very legislation that they vowed to repeal “root and branch.”
The American people sent the Washington establishment a tough-love message last November when they elected Donald Trump. Think of what message voters will send in 2018 if Republicans fail to repeal Obamacare when they had the chance.