By Phil Kerpen
“If you like your health plan, you can keep it” was last year’s Lie of the Year. When millions of cancellations stacked up, the game of make-believe was over. So the Democrats, hoping to survive another election cycle, shifted to a new mantra: they claim they want to fix the law. The facts show this is just another Obamacare lie.
The Democrat-controlled Senate has adjourned for the year without voting on any fixes.
The Senate only took up two Obamacare-related measures all year. One was a show-vote on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. The other was a House-passed bill called the Hire More Heroes Act that removed employer mandate penalties on companies for hiring veterans on Tricare or VA health care. That bill passed the House 406 to 1 with only Jerry Nadler of New York opposed – but Senate Democrats decided to use it as a vehicle for an unrelated package of tax changes that they later pulled from the floor.
And that’s it.
No other Obamacare votes allowed in the Senate all year, because Harry Reid has the reliable support of every Senate Democrat to ruthlessly block all amendments on the Senate floor.
It’s true most Republicans want to repeal the law. Good. It’s a terrible law and we’d be better off if it were repealed. But House Republicans have also recognized the need to provide immediate relief to millions of people suffering lost plans, higher premiums, higher taxes, shorter hours, and lost jobs. They have acted responsibly in the House by passing more than a dozen bills that fix the worst aspects of Obamacare.
Just recently the House passed a bill authored by Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana to allow people who work for small businesses to keep their health plans. Last year the House passed a similar bill for people who buy their own plans on the individual market by a robust 261-157 margin. Democrats like Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan claim to support a version of this bill in almost every stump speech, but vote with Reid to guarantee it will never actually come to the Senate floor.
The House passed a bill restoring the 40-hour workweek, hardly a partisan issue considering Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. has said that Obamacare’s 30-hour workweek breaks the back of the middle class. It passed 248-179 in April, and again last week in the House jobs package. The Senate refuses to act.
The House also passed a bill in its jobs package that repeals the medical device tax, a terrible tax that undermines the medical innovation we all depend on for longer, healthier lives. The bill by Minnesota’s Rep. Erik Paulsen is particularly important to his state economically because of its robust medical tech sector. Yet his Democratic Senate colleague Al Franken only pays lip service to it while voting with Harry Reid to prevent it from even getting a vote in the Senate.
The House overwhelmingly passed the Simple Fairness Act in March on a 250-160 vote to delay the Obamacare penalty tax for all Americans, as President Obama has already unilaterally done for the biggest corporations. The Senate never considered it.
The House, over opposition from many of its own staff, even passed legislation reversing the special exemption President Obama granted Members of Congress and their staff. The Senate immediately, on a party-line motion, blocked it from being considered.
Senate Democrats have unanimously helped Reid lock down the Senate floor and block votes on all of these bills because if votes were allowed the charade that they want to fix Obamacare would collapse. They would be exposed as members of a tiny, radical fringe who believe Obamacare is great exactly as it is.
Even in committee, Democrats actually canceled consideration of the appropriations bill that funds the Department of Health and Human Services. Why? The AP reported it was because Democrats on the committee “including Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska, are at risk of losing re-election.”
Reasonable Americans remain divided on whether Obamacare needs to be repealed or significantly changed.
But it should be clear by now that neither of those outcomes will be possible as long as Democrats control the Senate.
By Phil Kerpen