Did Lamar Alexander just double-cross Patty Murray?
The congressional leadership of the GOP, having been lambasted by conservatives and libertarians for including two Obamacare bailout measures in the imminent omnibus budget bill, has added language making it impossible for the Democrats to take “yes” for answer.
The Democrats have ceaselessly clamored for the inclusion of cost-sharing reduction and risk mitigation programs. But they cried “foul” upon discovering that the leading Republican sponsor of the “stabilization bill,” Senator Lamar Alexander, had stipulated that the Hyde Amendment would apply to the bailout funding: The Los Angeles Times reports:
Democrats said they were shocked Monday to find out that Alexander had approved restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions that would, they said, make it impossible for women to purchase abortion coverage under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.… Those restrictions were not in an Alexander-Murray measure released in 2017, they said.
The Democrats know the abortion lobby will crucify them if they accept such language. More to the point, so does the GOP. The stipulation was obviously inserted to force the Democrats to choose between propping up Obamacare and angering the abortion industry. Senator Alexander feigned surprise to find that the Democrats were so worked up:
“The argument is about the mechanics of applying the Hyde law, not about the basic law and I am astonished that Democrats would want to turn [aside] an opportunity to give a plumber making $60,000 a year a chance to reduce his health insurance from $20,000 to $12,000.”
Washington Senator Patty Murray, the bailout bill’s Democratic co-sponsor, no doubt realizes that she has been double-crossed. She responded to the Hyde Amendment issue thus:
“Republicans are rallying behind a new partisan bill that includes a last-minute, harmful restriction on abortion coverage for private insurance companies instead of working with Democrats to wrap up what have been bipartisan efforts to reduce health care costs.”
The Democrats still believe they can pin this year’s premium hikes on the Republicans in the upcoming midterms if the bailouts aren’t funded. But the voters know who foisted Obamacare on them. And this impasse enables the Republicans to say they offered a bipartisan solution but the Democrats wouldn’t cooperate. As Senator Alexander rhetorically asked the Democrats:
“If you are running for U.S. Senate or U.S. House in November, do you really want to stand up and say: ‘I’m going to vote not to lower insurance rates by 40%’?”
Any Democrat who answers “yes” to that question should be institutionalized. The Republicans may have failed to repeal Obamacare in one stroke, but they lifted some of the weight off the electorate’s shoulders by eliminating the individual mandate tax, repealing IPAB, etc. The Democrats have done nothing but lie about the law’s alleged successes and demand more taxpayer money.
Which argument would you rather make?
Sen. Patty Murray (Mobilus In Mobili/Creative Commons)