Meet the Republicans who oppose Trumpcare

Zack Ford Editor, Think Progress LGBT

House Republicans have finally unveiled their plan to undo Obamacare, but not all congressional Republicans are on board with the controversial new plan.

For some, the plan is still too liberal. Members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus of 170 House conservatives, prepared an analysis critiquing the plan with “major concerns” that it’s too similar to Obamacare. For example, the RSC memo objects to the fact that the plan extends Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion for three years. This, it argues, “will contribute to the worsening of the federal and state budgets” and will leave “the federal government picking up the majority of the bill.”

These members simply do not want the federal government spending money to help the lowest-income Americans afford health coverage. In fact, they chide supporters of the plan for allowing the Medicaid expansion to “avoid the political consequences and pain of unwinding expansion.” Apparently, making it so that some 11 million Americans can no longer afford or access health insurance isn’t politically popular, but it’s still what some of these Congressional Republicans would prefer on principle.

Likewise, the RSC memo objects to the new plan offering tax credits to help people access health insurance through individual plans. “Writing checks to individuals to purchase insurance is, in principle, Obamacare,” the memo states. Even though it acknowledges that this approach “does allow more choices for individuals” and “is more patient-centered,” it’s still not acceptable because the federal government simply shouldn’t “fund insurance purchases.” Freedom means people being left to fend for themselves.

Among those unimpressed by the plan are Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who called it “Obamacare by a different form”; Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), who complained that he’s seen “no evidence that this bill will bring the cost curve down”; and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who called it “Obamacare 2.0.”

Some of these members have openly said that they wouldn’t support the legislation in its current form, but it’s unclear how many are willing to take such a stance against it. House Republicans can only afford to lose 21 votes, assuming all Democrats vote against it.

Meanwhile, however, several Republican Senators object to the new Trumpcare plan for being too conservative. In fact, on some of the same points the RSC complains that the legislation doesn’t go far enough, these Senators think it goes too far.

Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Monday evening expressing “concerns” that the drafted plan “does not adequately protect individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or provide necessary flexibility for states.”

Though the Senators explain that they support repealing Obamacare, they’re worried about the many people who lose Medicaid coverage from a “poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure.” Any replacement plan, they argue, must allow for “a stable transition period and the opportunity to gradually phase-in their populations to any new Medicaid financing structure.”

“We will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states,” they write.

That could be a serious problem in the Senate, where Republicans can only afford to lose three votes. Losing those four would prevent the legislation from passing.

In short, Republicans throughout Congress seem to be torn between their fiscally conservative ideological principles and the political pressure to actually ensure their constituents continue to have access to health care. Apparently, those town halls are making an impression.


UPDATE: There are now some Republicans in the Senate who are also opposing the bill for being too liberal. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called it “Obamacare Lite” and said that “it will not pass.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) similarly called the bill a “missed opportunity and step in wrong direction”

If Paul and Lee refuse to vote for it, Senate Republicans can‘t lose any more votes if they expect the bill to pass.

Zack Ford is the editor of ThinkProgress LGBT at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, hailing from the small town of Newport, PA. Prior to joining ThinkProgress, Zack blogged for two years at ZackFordBlogs.com with occasional cross-posts at Pam’s House Blend. He also co-hosts a popular LGBT-issues podcast called Queer and Queerer with activist and performance artist Peterson Toscano. A graduate of Ithaca College (B.M. Music Education) and Iowa State University (M.Ed. Higher Education), Zack is an accomplished pianist with a passion for social justice education. Follow him on Twitter at @ZackFord.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work