Rand Paul

Ron Johnson and Ted Cruz Join the Rand Paul/Mike Lee Opposition to Obamacare Lite

Tea Party senators claim to be "open to negotiation" yet insist on repealing Obamacare, which no version of the AHCA has come close to doing.

|

Rand Paul announces opposition to the AHCA. ||| Garrett Haake
Garrett Haake

As widely predicted in this space and elsewhere, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have come out in quick opposition to the first draft (as written) of the Senate's version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). But for weeks now, the parlor game in Washington has been: Which Republican would have the courage (or is it opportunism?) to join them, thereby tipping the whip count to 51-49 against, and potentially incurring the same kind of wrath that President Donald Trump deployed so effectively against the House Freedom Caucus?

The answer just came—Paul/Lee's fellow Tea Party senators, Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.). Johnson had been pretty vocal last night about the rushed and secretive drafting process, while Cruz has been oscillating between his personae as Mr. Anti-Obamacare and someone who wants to "get to yes."

The senators' joint statement is being read by many progressives as a negotiating ploy—they do say they're "open to negotiation," after all—but there's a poison pill at the end that may prove too difficult to digest:

Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor. There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.

Italics mine. As Peter Suderman pointed out when the legislation was posted this morning, and as both Suderman and the yes-voting members of the Freedom Caucus (as well as Rand Paul and others) acknowledged when the AHCA passed the House, both versions of the GOP's 2017 health care revamp leave the basic structure of Obamacare in place (albeit with less taxation, fewer mandates, and less coverage). No bill that has come within miles of either the House or Senate floor has fulfilled that "most important promise" to "repeal Obamacare." For the Tea Party Four to change their "no" votes to yes, there would either have to be an astonishingly fast root-and-branch re-write of the bill or a brazen heel-turn on the clear and declarative statement they just made.

Ted Cruz as I type this is saying "We can get this done, we can get to yes," and stressing that the "single biggest" improvement he's looking for is to "lower the cost of premiums." He also wants more state flexibility. And Rand Paul told reporters, "The intention is not to take down the bill," it's "to make the bill better." So we shall see.

NEXT: What You Didn't See in That Shocking Evergreen Segment: Michael Moynihan Dishes in The Fifth Column

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I just stopped by to say,

    “Hmm, I wonder what Ken Shultz thinks about this topic.”

    That is all.

    1. “There are three things every libertarian should love about the AHCA”

      1. Number 6 will shock you!

      2. “We remember what the ACA looked like back in 2010. What it looks like now will shock you.”

    2. Sup, Gojira. Nice to hear from you. Hope you are well.

    3. It’s “amazingly excellent,” and the trouble the GOP is having in getting it passed is evidence that Trump is a “smart man.”

      And since you’re here, why not stay a while.

    4. Glibs has been blocked for me at work : (

      But I always kept up reading the stories & comment threads that I thought would be interesting over here, so, cheers fellas.

      1. I went there once, concluded that it was a bizarre echo chamber, and left immediately. If I wanted a bunch of wacknut opinion pieces I would just read Being Libertarian on Facebook.

        1. I spend the vast majority of my time there (not necessarily commenting), and I did a weekly movie review for 3 1/2 months. More of my friends* went there, so I did, too, and I stand by them. I didn’t and don’t, however, have any personal animosity towards this site, or the Remnant or the Elendili or whatever you people call yourselves after we sailed west to challenge the Valar.

          *friends being used in the sense of, people I hang out with online outside of the Reason comments section.

        2. Same here. It wasn’t terrible, but just kind of blah. Seemed like kind of an echo chamber/ circle jerk (although I suppose you could say the same about H&R). Some of the people over there were fun to interact with and I sometime miss some of those guys, but others… not so much.

          I never bothered trying to comment there because I figured since I wasn’t invited to join their self-styled “cool kid’s club” I wouldn’t be welcome. And besides, I’d never want to join any club that wanted me as a member anyway.

          1. Most of the people there weren’t specifically invited. Just show up, take a giant shit in the guest toilet, don’t bother to flush, and drink all our beer. We’re very low-class like that.

            1. take a giant shit in the guest toilet

              Can I leave an upper decker?

            2. Also, obviously I was under the impression that you had to be invited to post or comment there and that it wasn’t an open “just show up and comment” type of thing. I guess I was mistaken.

              1. There’s a registration, but that’s it.

          2. Here the circle jerk is just subtext. There, it’s the text.

            1. Especially with SugarFree being over there…

          3. I checked it out when they started but was turned off by the heavy banhammer. As many assinine jokes as I make, I was sure I would not last long.

            1. Really? I think we’ve only banned a few people. And everyone gets warnings first, in the form of an image of a cat butt over the offending post. Yes, we moderate more than they do here, but only slightly, and is intended to keep a few well-known Tulpas off our lawn.

              1. Also, Mikey’s constant promotion of the glib site did not help your cause.

                1. Maybe that’s why it got the label of being yokels who came over with us.

                  Because if you run down the list of the original sinners – Sloppy, Playa, Riven, Warty, SF, HM, JW, Doyers, OMWC, myself – none of us were accounted yokels when we were here. In fact, we frequently clashed with them. I never heard myself referred to as a yokel until after the split, which was funny as hell to me.

                  1. if you run down the list of the original sinners – Sloppy, Playa, Riven, Warty, SF, HM, JW, Doyers, OMWC, myself – none of us were accounted yokels when we were here

                    I noticed that too when I lurked over there: that several of the names I recognized weren’t really what I’d call “yokels” either, just people who weren’t happy with some of Reason’s early Trump coverage (which does seem to have improved – not sure if it’s the lost clicks from the defection that caused them to re-think their editorial stance or just the natural course of seeing that the sky wasn’t actually falling).

                    I don’t know if it’s Mikey’s fault or the fact that there’s no room for nuance in the comments of a libertarian site that caused some people to just assume that glibs is all just pissed off yokels. Probably both.

                    Oops there I go trying to be all nuanced again. Stop it! There’s no room for that here!

                    1. I coined the term “Secession of the Yokels” because it sounded like the ancient Roman Secession of the Plebes. I didn’t actually do an ideological analysis of the people who left. “Secession of Some-People-Who-May-Be-Termed- Yokels-And-Some-To-Whom-The-Term- Does-Not-Apply” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

                  2. Well, that’s not the entire list. Wasn’t the first loud defector RC Dean? He’s a smart guy and may be undeserving of the yokel epithet, but I have enjoyed not seeing blame attributed to “the DemOp media” every day.

                    Which in a nutshell is why I didn’t bother registering over there: I have no interest in reminding each other how stupid and evil and gross and untrustable leftists are. That seems to be the main point of the comments section, which is the main point of the site.

          4. CA, I think that sums up my sentiments regarding glibrtarians also. Well said.

        3. Yeah, I took a look at the articles for a couple of weeks and they were rather sparse and of low quality. If the Secession of the Yokels happened because of the supposed poor quality articles here, I don’t see how the glibertarians is any improvement.

          But they don’t seem to criticize Trump much, so if you’re the kind of libertarian that doesn’t like to bitch about the president it has that going for it.

          1. Well, considering we come up with articles in our spare time while having regular lives, and none of us has a journalism degree from Columbia (or anywhere else, for that matter), no, it isn’t going to be top-notch hard-hitting news every hour on the hour. You also clearly never read my regular Thurs. night movie reviews, which were TOP. FLIGHT. LITERATURE. Though sadly I ended them as a weekly last week and will probably only do one monthly going forward.

            The reason for the split had a lot of underlying factors, and was not solely (or even at all, for some of us) an issue of perceived article quality here.

            1. If you covered the entire Porky’s series, then I’ll go back and read them.

          2. If the Secession of the Yokels happened because of the supposed poor quality articles here, I don’t see how the glibertarians is any improvement.

            I don’t know that it was the quality of the articles per se so much as the editorial slant Reason chose wrt to Trump, and especially the so-called “Muslim Ban.”

            Which was quite over the top and lacking nuance, to be honest. I too was disappointed to see Reason repeat a lot of the hysteria that you can get on CNN and would have liked more thoughtful analysis as opposed to the pearl clutching that some of the contributors here engaged in (looking at you, Dalmia), but what are you gonna do? It’s their website, and they’re free to publish what they wish on it.

            Likewise the folks who “seceded” are also free to go start their own blog. Freedom of association and all that. No one’s rights were trampled on, and I don’t hold any ill will towards the people who left. It’s a (still relatively) free country.

            1. ^^excellent, nuanced response.

              So you don’t belong on any libertarian site.

              1. I guess I don’t fit in anywhere.

                *hangs head in shame*

            2. Oh, I don’t deny they could do what they want. I’m just saying that with all its faults I’d rather read Reason and find the articles here are of a higher quality (even when I disagree with them) than at the Glibs. But it’s a matter of taste, sure. If I had more time I’d probably lurk more there. But I only have room for one time-sink, and I choose Reason.

              1. It also seems like they’re their own fan club.

            3. Fisher’s post was embarrassing (regardless of the story being hoax), and Dalmia is Dalmia, but the rest of the staff provided good analysis and commentary, and at a measured pace. I contend that the cocktails narrative was so overheated by the time of the EO, many people’s interpretation of the posts here were way out of line.

        4. I spent a lot of time at glibs at first, but now it’s more “I mean” to hop over there and never get around to it.

          I genuinely like a lot of the people who hopped over, but now that it’s a semi-restricted group of old friends, it’s become a bit of an echo chamber, retreading memes and trading the same basic comments back and forth. I’ve had some interesting discussions over there, but mostly it’s scanning past amusing and familiar-sounding banter.

          If I’m being honest, I wind up missing the vitriol this place can provide.

        5. It was so bizarre, I got kicked out before I could figure out what was happening. It seems my kind of political incorrectness was not their kind, or something like that.

      2. Glibs is blocked at your work? It’s SugarFree, isn’t it.

        1. The weird thing is, it wasn’t until like two weeks ago. Go figure.

      3. Glibs has been blocked for me at work : (

        Whoever you’re working for is obviously smart enough to be able to tell the real libertarian sites apart from the fake ones!

  2. And this will be the state of the healthcare battle. There are sufficiently many Senators that are conservative enough fiscally that the current bill is considered too moderate for them. If concessions were made such that at least one of the mentioned Senators decides to vote yes, it could very well cause less moderate Senators to become “no” votes.

    Healthcare reform under this administration is dead and a near impossibility unless something drastic changes.

    1. “There are sufficiently many Senators that are conservative enough fiscally that the current bill is considered too moderate for them. If concessions were made such that at least one of the mentioned Senators decides to vote yes, it could very well cause less moderate Senators to become “no” votes.”

      Which is about the best than can be said of the Rs now. By comparison, that lying piece of shit Obama (aided by the equally LPoS Pelosi) simply claimed you have it all for free and no one will have to pay for it! (looking for the donkey eating corn through the fence image of Obama).
      And all the Ds lined up and said ‘Well, of course!’

      1. The Democrats had simply used Republican tactics.

  3. repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.

    But all I’ve been hearing is that these teathuglicans want people dying in the streets. Lower costs? The Enlightened know that the only way to achieve this is by putting “Affordable” in the name and redistributing wealth from the rich bloodsuckers. It couldn’t possibly have the opposite effect.

    Apparently, dirt cheap health care in an unfettered industry is so far in the past that nobody knows it existed. Understanding of economic policy consequences is in dire need by the government-educated public.

    1. Apparently, dirt cheap health care in an unfettered industry is so far in the past that nobody knows it existed.

      Yeah, pretty much.


  4. …while Cruz has been oscillating between his personae as Mr. Anti-Obamacare and someone who wants to “get to yes.”

    Yeah, Cruz talks a good conservative game but his actions tell a completely different story. I would say ‘bullet dodged’ on him becoming President, but then again Trump. That being said, I’ll take a Trump over a man who knows what’s right but chooses to do the opposite any day of the week.

    1. And, as much as I like Rand, it seems he’s doing the same semantics game as Cruz which does bother me a bit. I’m not sure what they have to gain by saying things like this, other than look like they’re pretending to play ball while intentionally torpedoing the bill. I’m guessing they’re trying to have ground to stand on when they inevitably go head-to-head with Trump. Guess #2 is build good will with dissatisfied Democrats for the next Presidential election.


      And Rand Paul told reporters, “The intention is not to take down the bill,” it’s “to make the bill better.” So we shall see.

      1. I’m not sure what they have to gain by saying things like this, other than look like they’re pretending to play ball while intentionally torpedoing the bill. I’m guessing they’re trying to have ground to stand on when they inevitably go head-to-head with Trump.

        Probably a little from column A, a little column B. They gain even less if they say “No, and there’s nothing you can do to change that.” This way they get to come off as “reasonable and willing to compromise” while probably knowing full well there’s no way the bill can be modified enough to get them to vote for it. It also, again, makes them looks sane and dignified when Trump goes off on them in an inevitable twitter fit.

        1. C. Actually repealing Obamacare would be electoral suicide, so they’re playing chicken. By refusing to support anything but a full repeal they know is never going to pass, they can campaign as the only true believers left in the party.

          1. Actually repealing Obamacare would be electoral suicide

            I’m not sure it would be for them. Their electorate elected them, in part, because of their promise to vote to repeal Obamacare. They didn’t campaign promising to just tweak it a little. So for Paul, Lee, Cruz, and Johnson I don’t think it would be electoral suicide unless the electorate in their home states has changed their minds about repealing O-care.

            1. If you pass a law taking $10,000 from everyone in the top quintile and use it to give everyone a $1,000 healthcare subsidy (the other $5,000 getting wasted), you can cut total healthcare spending by repealing the law, but most of the voters are not going to be happy with the results.

              The Republicans have basically run on the proposition they can repeal the above law and not only will no ones health care go up, but most people’s healthcare will go down even further.

              So yes, it would be electoral suicide, because they’re promising something that’s impossible to deliver.

              1. So yes, it would be electoral suicide, because they’re promising something that’s impossible to deliver.

                ^ This.

                The turd floating in the pool is that there’s all kinds of government meddling in healthcare that was driving up healthcare costs before anyone even started talking about something like the ACA. CONs, the FDA, the AMA monopoly being primary among them.

                It was politically expedient to pretend that solving the problem is as simple as “repeal Obamacare,” but it isn’t.

                So they could repeal Obamacare today, and the healthcare system would be very far from “fixed,” and costs would continue to rise. The only result would be the Republicans looking like utter morons.

              2. A lot of the people who voted them in didn’t get shit from the government. I sure didn’t. All I get is an option to buy a massively overpriced policy that is inferior to what I used to have. So fuck the ACA. Anyone who voted for full repeal will sure as fuck have my vote. And the votes of an awful lot of people I know.

          2. “Actually repealing Obamacare would be electoral suicide”

            I hear this a lot, but see no evidence to back it up.

            As others have noted, for the vast majority of (R) congresscritters the promise of repealing Obamacare is what got them elected. And, when you look at Trump’s voters I simply do not see him losing many of those people.

            Most people who would ‘suffer’ under an Obamacare repeal either didn’t vote, or voted for Hillary.

            1. The degree of cold feet on their part is very vexing because of the facts you brought out. And of course Square Circle, Mike Hihn, & many others are right that there’s a heck of a lot that could be done to reduce medical costs for real, insurance details just being a relatively small bump on that rock, & Obamacare a bump on that bump. But Obamacare was at least an easy target that they’re now afraid to shoot. If anything ever showed the climate in the polls to be favorable for suspending legislative rules & getting this thru by a simple majority, this was it.

              But before momentum is lost entirely, pass what you’ve got via reconciliation. It won’t hurt!! Does it encourage the death spiral? Sure, but who thought that was a stable situation anyway? It gives them more of an excuse to go further next session, or even next week.

              1. Unfortunately the greater part of cost-cutting potential is at the state level, and hence must be undertaken piecemeal. Instead of trying to cover the uninsured, make it so deductibles are more attractive, by lowering routine medical costs, which have been pushed up by restrictions on supply & insistence on Cadillac care.

    2. “I’ll take a Trump over a man who knows what’s right but chooses to do the opposite…”

      So you prefer a man who doesn’t have any idea what’s right, and merely stumbles into doing it (poorly) part of the time?

      1. Well, I would say ‘but look what Hillary would have done’, but that doesn’t apply to the question. As slimical psychopaths have no sense of right or wrong.

    3. They should just pass straight up repeal first. No reason to keep any version of the ACA around. Then start completely fresh with a free market approach.

      Not this this dogshit socialist bill.

  5. Hoping for the best, expecting less.

    We’ll see.

  6. but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.

    Because there is no way both of those objectives simultaneously. They’re basically asking for a law to create four-sided triangles.

  7. The GOP leadership is going to have to twist a lot of arms to get a bill passed. In addition to these 4, they have to keep the potential “no” moderates on board (Collins, Murkowski, etc.) and they have to get a bill through the House again, which passed with a very narrow margin last time.

  8. Good news today it was confirmed that a Canadian Spec Forces member made a 3540 metre kill shot in Iraq last month… that’s more that 11000 ft…

    1. Must have one hell of a windless day. 2.2 miles, ten seconds flight time.
      Just a bunch of peace loving followers of Islam, preparing for a quiet night of murder and mayhem, and then all of a sudden the leader drops dead with a bullet in his head.
      I would agree that qualifies a ‘disrupted’ !!

      1. Sounds pretty awesome to me. The gloves really need to come off. Trump isn’t very PC, or likely to maintain the currently asisnine rules of engagement in place. So hopefully, we will get more done over there soon.

    2. That’s not a kill shot, that’s sorcery… how anyone can make a shot that long is amazing to me.

  9. The best option for the GOP is for this thing to die and for them to get away with not living up to their promise to kill President McBlackerson’s favorite law. How does McConnell accomplish this? With scapegoats of course. Libertarians, finally useful for something.

    Or they’ll just get a token amendment and cave. They are still Republicans.

    1. First, the general public is not nearly cognizant enough of libertarianism, or libertarians to a degree where they make useful scapegoats. Second, you better pray to your Satanic master that the GOP never grows a pair, or it will be the end of you and your buddies.

      Third, fuck off Tony.

  10. Here’s a novel idea. Leave it to the FREE MARKET, or, it they feel they must intrude, the states.

    Article 10 of the Constitution says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” I don’t see anywhere where “regulate healthcare” is one of “the powers delegated to the United States.”

    1. Promote the general welfare.
      Don’t you know that means that welfare must be the answer to every problem, real or perceived? And only at the federal level.

    2. If the only problem is that it might not be constitutionally permissible in theory, there’s always the interstate commerce clause.

      It’d be a shame to eliminate the efficiency of a universal risk pool on that basis alone.

      1. Interesting…so you derive your morality from the state’s law, but you also are open about being in favor of ignoring the state’s law whenever you think it’s convenient.

        What’s it like not having any actual beliefs or courage?

        1. Also, I need an edit button. I’m not going to proofread my shit every time I hit submit, so y’all might as well get over that shit, Reason.

  11. Thank you Mr. Paul & Company for standing up for the America that elected you.

  12. The early line on tonite’s MSM newscasts is that this bill will ” gut medicaid” and “slash taxes for the wealthy.” That’s the breathless, and un-challenged, coverage of the folks demonstrating outside Toomey’s office in Allentown, PA.

  13. Apparently the Republicans are saying “if you like your Obamacare, you can keep it”. In fact they are going to offer no other choice. What a disappointing Congress.

  14. This is not Obamacare lite.

    This is Drumpfcare heavy. Will lower the number of insured, cost the poor more, have less coverage and provide a huge tax cut for the rich.

    Reason.com libertarians should celebrate.

  15. The bill will be signed into law with at least 51 Republicans voting YES.

    Rand Paul will be the only holdout, so that he can maintain his libertarian credentials while voting with Drumpf 88% of the time

    1. I’m skeptical that they get to ‘yes’ at all. They need to keep their damn campaign promise. This bill is not it.

  16. The way you make progress on something like this is pass what you can, as soon as you can, because you can always enact more stuff later?even starting on the next bill 10 secs. later. It’s moving in the right direction, so take advantage of the momentum.

  17. Tea Party senators claim to be “open to negotiation” yet insist on repealing Obamacare, which no version of the AHCA has come close to doing.

    Insist on a bill that can’t be passed through reconciliation, and therefore can’t be passed at all, giving us the status quo Obamacare, Now and Forever.

    “Muh principles!”

  18. “the ‘single biggest’ improvement he’s looking for is to ‘lower the cost of premiums.'”

    It’s a real shame they put all their energy into pricing and none into costs.

  19. Either have universal care or don’t bother. These half-n-half schemes don’t work. Obamacare will die in a few years regardless of what the Republicans do, the writing is on the wall.

  20. Until the Republicans get 60 in their caucus, they will not be able to scuttle this – and they most certainly will get to below 50 before they get to 60. Do they understand that the Democrats will off up a very simply reply to all this talk that ObamaRomneyHeritageCare is a “disaster” that is spelled “Medicare-For-All”? Do they not see that they have the ability to make as good of a deal as possible now as they will ever have?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.