Dear Andrew, Why Did My Bill Fail?
Today, this satirical armchair pundit got a mysterious letter in the mail from a certain “Raul Pyan”, from Wisconsin. I curiously opened it, and read the letter:
Why did my bill fail? I did everything right, or so I thought. For 7 years now, we’ve been working hard to repeal Obamacare; we’ve voted over 50 times to get rid of it. Now, my party is in government and we had a great plan, called the American Health Care Act (AHCA). It checked all the boxes! Good for my donors, bad for Obama’s legacy. For some reason, people didn’t like it though. I did everything-heck, I went down on one knee to beg for passage! After 7 years of people complaining about Obamacare, I’m very disappointed, because the AHCA didn’t even come up for a vote. Why did this happen, Andrew? Why?”
I grabbed a cup of coffee and set out to uncover why this shadowy Wisconsinite’s proposal was a legislative hot mess and hammer out a response that wouldn’t offend his sensibilities. Here’s what I came up with:
“Hello, Raul! I understand that you may want to go anonymous after the shameful defeat you suffered in Congress, but I know darn well who you are. I may not have much political wisdom, but I saw some very tangible problems throughout the AHCA’s process. Here’s my advice to you.
- Take your time, because healthcare is complicated. I’m shocked at the lack of effort put into drafting this. Instead of spending time carefully deliberating over provisions, making modifications, and hearing from apolitical experts, you tried to cram a sweeping reform through Congress in 18 days. This actually made many people, especially those in the medical field, extremely upset. Obamacare, which your party thinks was poorly planned, took 14 months to pass. Your conservative Senate friend Tom Cotton even contended that rushing the issue should be spurned in favour of a “more deliberate and careful fashion.”
- Try to improve on the status quo by helping the American people. Your bill would have substantially raised costs on older Americans, who actually voted for you by a large margin last election. Letting insurance companies charge older people 5 times more than younger people (the status quo allows for 3 times the amount to be charged) was a BIG mistake. Also, its abandonment of Obamacare’s credit system, combined with $880 billion in cuts from Medicaid would seriously damage the lives of poorer Americans, leaving them at risk of bankruptcy for medical procedures. You simply can’t complain about the ACA’s costs and promise to protect entitlements, and then put forth a bill that gouges consumers and cuts entitlements.
- Don’t make things even worse than if you provided no alternative. There’s no way to mince my words here. Your plan would leave one million MORE Americans uninsured than repealing Obamacare with no replacement whatsoever (also a terrible idea). Congratulations! You crafted the worst possible proposal.
- Don’t ignore the political realities of your party. Just because you have control of government doesn’t mean that the divisions lurking beneath the surface of your anti-Obama “unity” would stay hidden. If all along, you had taken your party’s more conservative voices into account, you may have gotten something done. After all, when (too late), you inserted token reforms into the AHCA, you swung about 7 right wing votes to your side. Your party is still locked in the right-wing vs moderate battle it has been in for years. Time would have helped here, as would a better working knowledge of the partisan dynamic.
At the end of the day, we have to acknowledge that you, a political veteran and the Speaker of the House, should have known better. Maybe you can place some blame, correctly, on the inexperienced President who was never really a fan of yours. Now, they’re all laughing at you and your allies for thinking you had this in the bag. Democrats are cheering this as the effective end of your repeal efforts. Not only did you tank one of the President’s promises in his first 100 days, but you also probably doomed your hopes of success on the issue in the foreseeable future. Learn a lesson from this, Raul.”
I’m a little afraid I offended him, but his party is always raging about “political correctness” as America’s real problem, so he ought to grow a thicker skin and some long-overdue legislative acumen.