If you have been following the Obamacare repeal saga, you will have noticed a recent spate of “news” stories about a leaked audio recorded during last Thursday’s Republican retreat. The shocking revelation that earned this clip so much coverage is that there is a diversity of opinion within the GOP concerning just how to get rid of the unpopular law. Predictably, the stories focus primarily on the bellyaching of blue state RINOs with the vapors, and bear titles such as the following from those paragons of journalistic veracity at Vox: “Leaked audio reveals Republicans are in utter disarray on Obamacare.”
“Utter disarray,” in the vernacular of Vox, means the audio reveals blue state Republicans rehearsing Democratic talking points. It features Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), for example, warning against repealing and replacing the law in these portentous terms: “We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created… Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.” Not coincidentally, this is exactly what the top Senate Democrat told the Washington Post when prompted for a prediction about Obamacare repeal.
Rep. McClintock, by the way, voted against the recent House resolution that cleared the way for Obamacare repeal. This is a distinction he shares with other RINOs widely quoted by the media outlets that have made so much of the recording. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) also voted “no.” MacArthur can be heard lamenting the fate of those 20 million people the Democrats falsely claim will lose their health coverage if the “Affordable Care Act” is repealed: “We’re telling those people that we’re not going to pull the rug out from under them, and if we do this too fast, we are in fact going to pull the rug out from under them.”
The RINOs arguing against fast action on repeal are not limited to the House, of course. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is heard on the audio delivering himself of this weird assertion: “Our goal, in my opinion, should be not a quick fix. We can do it rapidly, but not a quick fix.” The only thing this self-refuting statement makes clear is that Sen. Alexander doesn’t understand why the voters gave the GOP control of both houses of Congress and the White House. In response to Alexander’s plea to move slowly toward a “long-term” solution, most would probably reply, “We’ll be dead in the long term.”
Nonetheless, Lamar Alexander is not the only cringing GOP senator to push the “wet but not too wet” approach. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) can be heard on the audio complaining that one of the replacements under discussion “sounds like we are going to be raising taxes on the middle class in order to pay for these new credits.” Yet he and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) have introduced a “replacement” bill that not only leaves most of Obamacare’s taxes and subsidies in place, it fails to repeal the most reviled provision of the “reform” law — the individual mandate. As Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner explains:
Though the bill claims to eliminate the law’s individual mandate, it imposes a sort of mandate, by different means. States opting out of Obamacare can receive federally-funded health savings accounts for individuals. But they also have to auto-enroll residents in a base high-deductible plan with an HSA. That is, by default, everybody will be signed up for health insurance, regardless of whether they want it — and they’ll have to take action to drop out.
In addition to RINO equivocation about Obamacare repeal, the audio captures some angst among blue state Republicans about simultaneously defunding Planned Parenthood. Rep. John Faso (R-N.Y.) can be heard mewling, “We are just walking into a gigantic political trap if we go down this path of sticking Planned Parenthood in the health insurance bill.… I think we are creating a political minefield for ourselves.” The leadership, however, disagreed. House Speaker Paul Ryan has made it clear that the GOP will defund the nation’s largest abortion mill via the same reconciliation process they will use to repeal Obamacare.
It goes without saying that the RINOs are uncomfortable with the use of reconciliation for either purpose. Rep. McClintock, for example, can be heard on the audio saying, “The fact is, we cannot repeal Obamacare through reconciliation. We need to understand exactly: What does that reconciliation market look like? And I haven’t heard the answer yet.” This question is based on the false premise that it is the responsibility of the government to manage the health care system. In the end, though, that isn’t a crime. That’s what these retreats are for — to discuss important issues, work out policy differences, and develop plans.
Which brings us back to that brainless Vox headline and the amount of coverage this audio has received. The diversity of views among Republicans as revealed by the recording has been represented in the media as a serious problem for the Republican Party. But intellectual diversity, including the hare-brained notions held by some RINOs, is healthy. The Democrats and their media toadies think alike, talk alike, and cling to the same fantasies. That has made them what they are today — losers who no longer enjoy the public’s trust.