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Welch: And it's marginally better, and also passed by a margin, passed by four votes.
Amash: Yeah, a slim margin.
Welch: Which is two people who can flip. At the time, I was critical of the House Freedom Caucus, and I know some of the people who work for the leadership there are unhappy with the way that I characterized the turning of events there. In shorthand TV, you say things like, "Donald Trump put a lot of pressure on Mark Meadows, and they changed their mind." They say that's overly simplistic. So, can you correct my misapprehension? Mark Meadows, the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, has had quotes along the lines of, "Hey, when the president calls you, and then the vice president calls you and says 'Get a bill done,' you're gonna work to get a bill done." And I take that, perhaps naively, as maybe the president is putting a lot of pressure on people who don't like to feel pressure, and that's affecting their moods. Am I being too cruel in my assessment here?
Amash: Mark Meadows is a southern gentleman, and he tries to present things in a way that, I think, are not going to be too upsetting to the White House or to leadership. He's doing his job as the chairman, of trying to work with everyone. I think that it wasn't pressure from the White House or pressure from leadership, it was that we had put together an amendment that we thought would marginally improve the bill, make it better than Obamacare. And when that was sufficiently supported, we had the group move in that direction, and move onboard with that amendment. But it wasn't pressure from the White House or leadership.
Welch: Your friend, Thomas Massie, who is just like you except even more, described all of this as the equivalent of some kind of hot potato ... Everyone knew that the next guy was going to be the one to block this from happening. How do you respond to that kind of characterization, of a bill that not many actual policy analysts from the libertarian or conservative point of view, basically one, liked it ... It's hysterically and historically unpopular. Was there a feeling ... And actually, a lot of your colleagues like Mark Sanford, when talking about why he voted yes, was like, "Well, let's keep the discussion going." Which is almost saying, "I don't want it to stop on my watch. Let's have conversations later." Was there an element to, let's just kind of keep putting off D-Day on this thing?
Amash: For some people I think that was true, that they wanted to just move it along. From my perspective, when you look at a piece of legislation, you see, "Does it move us marginally in the right direction?" And if it does, you vote for it. The other stuff is very hard to predict, all of the long-term strategies, is it gonna come back, how is it gonna look ... So you have to look at that piece of legislation and really focus on, "Does it improve things marginally?" And I thought it did. And I agree with your assessment and others' assessment that it's not a good piece of legislation, just like Obamacare is terrible. But, if it's marginally better than Obamacare, that's what you do.
And, every member of Congress does that. Even the people who were concerned about this piece of legislation, on other bills, they'll tell you, "Oh, we're moving it along marginally," so they'll support those bills in all sorts of other areas that we deal with.
Welch: There's a feeling that ... What were people doing from 2010 to 2017? There's a lot of politics around Obamacare, some very successful politics I might add. Is it that people weren't doing the policy work and the actual harder political work of working with your own colleagues from your own party, and hashing out the huge chasm between the Rand Pauls and Susan Collinses of the world ... What happened? Why was this such a kind of, "Oh, hey, it's November 9th, 2016, what are we gonna do about this thing that we've been talking about for six years?"
Amash: There was a lot of policy work. There were a lot of proposals out there, a lot of ideas, and some of those were incorporated into the bill. I think Republicans made a strategic mistake years ago when they started talking about repeal and replace, and keeping particular provisions from Obamacare. If you start to talk about keeping this provision or that provision, you end up having to keep a whole bunch of other stuff, or just restructuring it in a way that essentially keeps the same bill in place.
So, I always thought it was a mistake to talk about keeping the particular preexisting conditions provisions, or the particular provisions on community ratings or regulations. There are ways to address those concerns, for people who have preexisting conditions. There are ways to address that. But to say that you're going to keep it the way it is, that was a mistake.
So, when the bill came to the floor, when we had this new bill come to the floor, it was inevitable that it was going to keep a lot of Obamacare in place, because too many promises were made by Republicans. And I think a lot of Republicans also didn't think that we would have the White House, and didn't see an opportunity that would come along in the near future to repeal Obamacare. So, they made these promises that they're going to repeal it, and they made other promises that they're gonna keep parts of it if push comes to shove. And now, they're in this dilemma, where they want to keep parts of it, but keeping parts of it means essentially keeping most of Obamacare in place. And their promise to repeal has been shown to be not a true promise, not something that they ever intended to really follow through on.
Welch: Jeff Sessions, Attorney General-
Amash: And to be clear, I want to repeal Obamacare and still support a full repeal of Obamacare. I think we should start over, we should repeal Obamacare, and this is something that should be handled at the state level.
Welch: Jeff Sessions, Attorney General this week, expanded a rollback, very modest reforms that had been made under Eric Holder about civil asset forfeiture, which is legalized theft by the cops, to put my spin on it at least. You've been a big critic of that, I think you have a bill introduced to do something about that. Talk a little bit about, first your reaction to that, and what are the prospects that Congress will react to what is a very unpopular practice. To the extent that Americans know about this, they hate it, and rightfully so. Is there actual possibility for Congress to act in a corrective way to this?
Amash: Yeah, so Senator Paul has a bill right now ... I'm working on something that is more comprehensive. His bill reforms civil asset forfeiture in a way that I think is positive and moves us in the right direction, but I'd like to see something more comprehensive. I'd like to wipe out civil asset forfeiture at the federal level and at the state level. So, my office is currently drafting legislation. It's taking awhile, because there's a lot of parts of the code that you have to work through. So, we're gonna get that legislation out, hopefully in the near future.
But, there's a lot of public support for getting rid of civil asset forfeiture. It's unconstitutional. It's the idea that the government can come in and take your property without due process. And a lot of people, I think, were unaware of it and are just starting to learn about it, people on the left and the right. There are people on the left who don't like the Trump Administration, so now they're hearing about it all of a sudden. But actually, this was the policy under Democratic presidents as well.
Welch: Loretta Lynch was particularly fond of the practice.
Amash: Yeah, Loretta Lynch loved the idea of civil asset forfeiture, and I criticized her for that on Twitter and elsewhere in the past. So, this is a bipartisan issue, it's something that all Americans should be concerned about. We believe in due process in this country, we believe that your property shouldn't be taken away without some kind of criminal conviction, and right now the practice in this country is to allow the government to take your stuff without convicting you of anything, and in fact, without even charging you with a crime. So it's pretty outrageous, and I think most conservative and libertarian commentators out there are saying this, and pointing it out to people. So, I think we'll have some momentum on this.