Tags: Obamacare | insurance | job | Republicans

House Rules Committee Prepares Obamacare Repeal

By    |   Tuesday, 03 February 2015 08:03 AM

Feb. 2 was Ground Hog Day, and not only will there be six more weeks of winter, there will be at least eight. That's why they call it winter. So the House Rules Committee, chaired by Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, held another debate on Obamacare and adopted a rule providing for consideration of H.R. 596, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

In a mostly civil debate, Democrats complained that this would be the 57th time the issue has come up, while Republicans countered that at least eight bills were enacted as a result of these debates, because even the administration has acknowledged on occasion that Obamacare needs improvement. The committee approved the rule on a party-line vote of 7-2.

The reason Ground Hog Day comes into play is that if anyone has ever thought it would be fun to be a congressman, imagine having to go to meetings like this one and make the same arguments over and over. On Feb. 3, the bill is expected to be debated on the House floor, and the members will make the same arguments yet again.

This bill is also a test of a tactic the House Leadership has adopted, which is to ram bills through at the beginning of the session in order to demonstrate that they are at the forefront of the legislative agenda for this Congress. One side effect is to play into the hands of Democrats by giving them an opportunity to complain that Republicans have not used "regular order," which they always demanded when they were in the minority. The wisdom of the strategy and tactics of the Leadership will ultimately be judged by the results, both legislative and electoral.

Sessions attacked Obamacare as costly to taxpayers and harmful to job creation, costing $3,000 per year in increased premium costs and also increasing deductibles, in contrast to the president's promise that it would not cost taxpayers one dime. He also challenged the administration's claim to have created 11 million new jobs, on the ground that this is not a net figure and most of the jobs are part-time.

Along with the rule is a "self-executing" amendment that calls upon House committees to "submit" proposals for alternatives to Obamacare. "Self-executing" means that when the rule is adopted on the House floor, the amendment will automatically be adopted as well. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who served as the ranking Democrat because Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., was snowed in, complained that the word "submit" is a departure from regular order because it does not call for the committees to "report" the proposals through committee hearings and markups. McGovern charged that this process is a waste of time because the president is bound to veto the bill even if it passes both houses of Congress.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., pointed out that the Supreme Court would hear oral arguments in March on the constitutionality of the state-sponsored exchanges, with a decision expected at the end of the current term in June, so Obamacare could be bound to collapse, and he noted that the administration acted on its own to suspend the business mandate.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, who is a physician and chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, argued that after four years, Obamacare is deeply unpopular and has cost the economy 2.5 million jobs and $22 billion in wages. He accused the president of lying when he promised that patients could keep their current plans and doctors if they liked them. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., representing Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee, responded that congressmen are not here just to do what is popular, and that the administration never said patients could keep "hollow" plans.

The repeal bill is certain to pass the House, and as with the bill on banking regulation, it remains to be seen what actions the Senate, and in this case, the Supreme Court will take. Republicans credit the unpopularity of Obamacare for the fact that they control Congress today, and they will continue to keep it in the forefront of the national debate throughout this election cycle.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Feb. 2 was Ground Hog Day, and not only will there be six more weeks of winter, there will be at least eight. That's why they call it winter.
Obamacare, insurance, job, Republicans
Tuesday, 03 February 2015 08:03 AM
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