Rob Long of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud President Trump for telling the Russians to get out of Venezuela but worry about what might happen if they don’t. They also groan as congressional Republicans still don’t have a strategy on health care if Obamacare gets struck down in the courts. And they ask if even politics is becoming a 1990’s rerun after longtime DNC chairman and former Virginia Gov.Terry McAuliffe hints he will run in 2020.
The effort to strike down the Affordable Care Act just got a powerful new ally, as the Justice Department now says the courts should find the 2010 law unconstitutional, and one of the lawyers spearheading the case is thrilled with the news.
“The Trump Justice Department is doing its job to uphold the Constitution,” said Rob Henneke of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “I commend the Trump administration Department of Justice looking at the reasoning of the court and choosing to defend the rule of law and now seeking to uphold the correct opinion.”
Henneke joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton last year in arguing that a federal district judge should rule against Obamacare. Judge Reed O’Connor agreed, and his decision is now being challenged at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Also known as Obamacare, the ACA survived a 2012 Supreme Court battle, when Chief Justice John Roberts admitted the ACA violated the Commerce Clause of the Constitution but allowed the law to stand because the penalties Americans paid to the government for failing to purchase health insurance fell under the power of Congress to levy taxes.
The 2017 tax reform enacted a zero dollar penalty for defying the individual mandate. So critics like Henneke say there’s no longer a tax and revenue reason to keep the law.
Supporters of the ACA suggest conservatives are hypocritical for two major reasons. First, they say critics of the Obama Justice Department were incensed when it refused to enforce laws it didn’t like, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, but are only too happy to fight against existing laws now.
Henneke rejects the accusation.
“This duty to defend is a made up doctrine from only the last couple of decades. It’s not the role of the Department of Justice to win at any cost. Their role is to seek justice and uphold the Constitution,” said Henneke.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Henneke explain why ACA defenders are also wrong to accuse Republicans of abandoning Americans with pre-existing conditions if the law were struck down. He also explains where the case stands at the appellate level.
Republican struggled and failed to overhaul Obamacare. Many Democrats want the government to run health care entirely. But former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn says health care costs would plummet and choices would flourish if we simply bring transparency to the system.
A longtime doctor before entering the political arena, Coburn says patients would benefit enormously from price transparency and knowing the results that other patients have had from various providers. He says all sides agree that health care costs consume 20 percent of the nation’s GDP, but he says there’s a much better way to address this than putting the government in charge of everything.
“We have multiple studies by reputable groups that said anywhere from $500 billion to a trillion dollars a years doesn’t help anybody get well and doesn’t prevent anybody from getting sick. So how do you fix that?
“You fix that with what was proposed by the Trump administration, calling first for price transparency for everybody in health care. Because once net prices are published, you’re going to have 100,000 people making apps to show people how to get the best deal.
“Once you have price transparency, then you’re going to have outcome transparency because what will happen is all the prices will settle down to the most competitive. Then the differentiating factor will be, ‘What are your outcomes? What’s your infection rate? What’s your major complication rate? What’s your average hospital stay for this? What’s your re-operation rate?'”
“All of a sudden we will start buying health care like we buy everything else in the country,” said Coburn.
The fight for transparency won’t be easy. Coburn says there are a lot of powerful entities who have incentive to keep the bloated system in place.
“Who’s opposed to that? All the hospitals, all the big insurers, all the drug companies, all the pharmacy benefit managers, and everybody else that’s a middle man in health care that sucks money out but doesn’t add value,” said Coburn.
But is this just theory or are these ideas actually working somewhere? Listen to the full podcast as Coburn explains how price and outcome transparency is proving wildly successful in his home state. He also explains why our education system is utterly failing the young people clamoring for government-run care.
On Thursday, a new Congress will begins with Democrats controlling the House and Republicans enjoying a bigger majority in the Senate.
So how did the GOP do in the outgoing Congress? What did they get right on tax and other fiscal policy? What did they leave undone? And what issues could be grounds for bipartisan action in a divided Congress?
National Taxpayers Union President Pete Sepp explains why the tax reform bill accomplished a lot more than lower taxes and why Republicans failed to finish the job on that legislation.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Sepp detail how the new Congress may work together to address the most oppressive parts of Obamacare and why he doesn’t expect a big push for “Medicare for all.” He also reveals whether Congress will ever get serious about spending restraint.
Earlier this month a federal judge ruled the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional, and even with the the U.S. headed toward a divided Congress next month, a conservative policy expert says this could be a great opportunity for market-based solutions to make progress.
Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, using the logic Chief Justice John Roberts used to save the law in 2012. At that time, Roberts declared the law constitutional because the penalty for violating the individual mandate amounted to a tax. But with last year’s tax law reducing the penalty to nothing, O’Connor said both the mandate and the entire law must go.
The decision is just the first in what will likely be a long legal battle sure the reach the U.S. Supreme Court, but with the law in legal limbo, Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner says the opportunity could be ripe for a legislative fix.
Turner was part of a group urging Congress to adopt the Health Care Choices plan for much of 2018. GOP leaders ultimately chose not to take up the plan or even the issue. Turner suspects it’s because they were still wounded from their 2017 efforts.
“I think Congress was traumatized by what they’d been through with the rejection after putting so much effort into trying to do repeal and replace and failing in 2017. They were afraid to try that again,” said Turner.
Instead, she expects the new House Democratic majority to push for a single-payer system, known on the left as Medicare for all.
“After Obamacare’s failure, you’d think that maybe they’d learned a lesson but no. They just want to say, ‘If you give us all the money and all the control, we’ll be fine and we’ll be able to fix health care,” said Turner.
“We don’t believe that. We believe that you’ve got to devolve power down to the states and ultimately to individuals to make better decisions, to give resources to people who are sick, who are low income, who need help purchasing health insurance,” added Turner.
Democrats hammered away on health care in the midterm election campaign. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even mentioned how the fight over coverage for pre-existing conditions was a major factor in her party regaining the majority.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Turner explain how her plan is more generous to people with those conditions than anything provided for in Obamacare, how the Health Care Choices plan could be of great benefit to Medicaid patients, and how it could greatly reduce our all of our health care costs. She also discusses what’s realistic with Democrats running the House come January.
Rob Henneke, the attorney who argued in federal court for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act is celebrating the verdict and predicting the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately uphold the verdict.
On Friday, Federal Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA or Obamacare, agreeing with Henneke and officials from 20 states that the ACA is unconstitutional now that Congress has ended tax penalties for those refusing to purchase health insurance as mandated by the law.
“This is a great win, an historic outcome, with the federal district judge ruling that all of the Affordable Care Act is invalid because of the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate,” said Henneke, who directs the Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
While allies are hailing the decision and opponents are decrying it, Henneke points out that there are multiple legal steps remaining before the case is resolved. He fully expects opponents to appeal O’Connor’s decision to a federal appeals court and one side or the other will then appeal that verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Chief Justice John Roberts saved the ACA in 2012 by citing the tax component of the individual mandate, but Henneke says that same logic is how he expects to win the case this time around.
“The whole basis for the court’s ruling this past Friday was based on John Roberts’ opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius. He found the Affordable Care Act constitutional because he said the individual mandate penalty was a tax and it was a tax because it generated revenue for the federal government.
“Now that Congress has set the individual mandate penalty at zero, it doesn’t generate revenue. It is Chief Justice Roberts’ own analysis and own opinion which forms the basis of this case,” said Henneke.
Henneke is also firing back at media coverage suggesting millions of Americans will lose coverage and be thrown off their insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
He says the other side needs to be heard too. Henneke represents two individuals in this case, Neill Hurley and John Nantz, who allege they have been unconstitutionally burdened by Obamacare.
Because of the limited options in Obamacare, Hurley had to choose whether to keep his own doctor and lose the pediatrician for his kids or keep the pediatrician and lose his physician. He put his kids first but was still staring at $24,000 out-of pocket expenses before the insurance ever kicked in.
Henneke says there are millions of people like Hurley and Nantz who are suffering but never get their stories told.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Henneke discuss the Obamacare repeal in more detail, what he expects to happen in the legal, fight, and why he strongly rejects accusations that Judge O’Connor engaged in judicial activism similar to liberal judges striking down President Trump’s travel bans.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome a federal judge’s decision to strike down Obamacare now that Congress has repealed the individual mandate. They also cringe as President Trump’s digs his legal holes deeper and deeper with more impulsive, ranting tweets. And they react to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren admitting she’s not a person of color just weeks after trying to score political points with her DNA test.
Congress still has time to accomplish major legislative goals this year and one embattled incumbent believes success in Washington will lead to success back home in November.
Rep. Dave Brat, R-Virginia, stunned the political world by toppling then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 2014 Republican primary. This year Brat finds himself in a toss-up race against Democratic challenger Abigail Spanberger.
The race leaves voters in the Old Dominion’s seventh congressional district with a stark contrast between the free market-oriented Brat and a staunch liberal challenger in Spanberger, who favors sanctuary cities and government-run health care.
Brat says the venom of the far left is up close and personal in his campaign.
“The last town hall I had, this hard left fringe is swearing at the pastor while he’s giving the opening prayer. It’s all on tape. Abigail Spanberger was in the front row and didn’t do anything about it,” said Brat.
But before November 6 arrives, Brat and his congressional colleagues hope to pass major legislation that proves to voters that they can still be entrusted with the majority. Brat says getting the spending bills done is at the top of the list, but he also wants to see action on health care, immigration, opioid addiction treatment funding and more.
In holding town halls, Brat says the one thing that transcends party is that frustration everyone has with the health care system.
“I had Democrats, independents, and Republicans. They would sit down with horror stories. ‘I’ve got one insurance company. I’ve got one prescription drug. I have no alternatives. I can’t choose another company. I can’t choose another prescription. I have to pay whatever price they have. My doctor’s not involved in it in any way shape or form,'” reported Brat.
He’s hearing the same stress from small business owners, who either can’t afford to hire skilled workers or offer health benefits at all.
Brat points out that the Senate has not done a budget resolution yet for this year so leaders could still pursue budget reconciliation, which would allow a health care bill to pass with a simple majority in the Senate.
Brat thinks turning around major repeal legislation in two months is a tall order but that it would also send a powerful message to voters that Republicans will do what they promise to do.
“That would be a home run if we could accomplish that. The election would be over,” said Brat.
While not diving too much into what would have to be included in a GOP plan to win his support, Brat says Spanberger and the Democrats want government to have complete control over health care, even though “Medicare for all” carries a 10-year price tag of $32 trillion.
Brat says the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran the numbers and discovered that both personal and corporate income taxes would have to be doubled to pay for that.
“That would not put you into a recession. That would put you into a depression,” he said.
The alternative of course is bigger deficits, which Brat condemns, but Democrats can now say that Republican leadership is producing trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. Brat says that’s true but not because of the tax cuts passed last year.
He says three percent growth is enough to offset the tax cuts and anything greater, like the 4.2 percent growth posted in the second quarter of this year, will lead to a net positive. Brat says the real culprit is the $400 billion in new spending agreed to back in February in both chambers of Congress.
Brat is also hoping to see progress on immigration policy through the budgetary process. He wants to see funding for President Trump’s border wall and also hopes to see Congress approve mandatory E-Verify programs, by which all employers must confirm that their employees are in the country legally.
“That would be a huge component. E-Verify goes a long way to making sure we have a legal workforce,” said Brat, who says rooting out illegal hires would lead to higher wages for citizens and legal residents and help the country see what areas of the economy need help through legal immigration.
He says immigration enforcement is another clear difference in his campaign, pointing out that prominent Democrats who endorse Spanberger, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, want to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
“I want to defend ICE. I want to help them keep our country safe. The left wants to prosecute the ICE agents who work every day, put their life on the line to keep us safe,” said Brat.
A leading health care policy expert is imploring congressional Republicans to renew the push for an Obamacare repeal or risk the full wrath of many of their constituents, and timing for such a move just got better.
On Tuesday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tapped former Sen. Jon Kyl to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy created by the death of Sen. John McCain, bringing a staunch conservative back to the Senate perhaps the decisive vote on repeal legislation.
Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner is part of a coalition pleading with Congress to take up the issue again – specifically on a plan to send power out of Washington and back to the states to establish their own rules for their own health systems.
She says many lawmakers like the idea but are reluctant to bring it up just two months before Election Day.
“They’re so frightened of bringing health care up again after the failed vote in July of last year,” said Turner. They’re afraid of bringing it up again and failing.”
However, Turner says they might have more to fear from doing nothing based on the scolding lawmakers are getting from voters this campaign season.
“Members are getting hammered on the campaign trail because they haven’t done anything to give people relief from the high costs and the limited choices of Obamacare,” said Turner.
She cited one Virginia voter who makes over $100,000 per year but is saddled with monthly health insurance payments of more than $4,000 per month because the Obamacare exchange only offers one plan. The rising costs are more than eating up the raises and extra income from the recent tax cuts.
“That’s what they’re hearing on the campaign trail: people trying to do the right thing and the costs just go up and up and up,” said Turner. “The markets are really imploding. The pools are not stable.”
In giving power back to the states, Turner says Republicans would once again be trumpeting what most Americans have always known.
“One of the things we’ve learned is that the federal government just cannot manage anything as complex and diverse as health insurance markets in the fifty states. We need to give them not only more power but new resources to begin to give people more choices of more affordable coverage,” said Turner.
Turner says 46-47 Republican senators are on board with the prescribed legislation while a handful of others are diving into the specifics. She says Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, want specific provisions for their states. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, wants a bigger focus on health savings accounts, and other conservatives want regulatory relief.
Listen to the rest of the interview with Grace-Marie Turner to hear all of her thoughts on the health care debate, the midterm elections, and how the liberal and media push for single payer is a tacit admission from the left that Obamacare is a failure.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, says he is focusing on helping Republicans retain their House majority before he worries about his bid for Speaker of the House but he says GOP lawmakers need to prove to voters they will do what they’ve promised the past four election cycles and that’s exactly how he would lead in the next Congress.
The race for speaker was triggered by Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision that he is retiring from Congress come January. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., is considered Ryan’s natural successor, but Jordan says the past two years have shown plenty of conservative actions from President Trump but very little from Congress in comparison.
He applauds Trump’s actions on the Iran deal, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and cutting taxes and regulations. He says the legislative branch is failing to do its part.
“We certainly helped with the tax cuts and we shouldn’t downplay that. But where’s the border security wall we promised? Where’s the Obamacare repeal? Where’s the welfare reform? Where’s defunding Planned Parenthood? Where are those key issues that we told the American people we were going to get done?
“We haven’t accomplished those, so if we keep the majority and I’m given the chance to lead the House, we’re going to focus on one simple message: doing what we told the American people we were going to do,” said Jordan.
Jordan chalks up the dearth of legislative achievements to “lack of political will” on the part of current Republican leaders. He says that cannot continue for another two years.
“It boils down to a simple fact. You’ve to be willing to actually engage in the debate and have the fight. You can’t just forfeit before the referee even blows the whistle and starts the game,” said Jordan.
He says the point of no return on the existing GOP leadership came earlier this year when it snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and agreed to major spending increases in an omnibus bill.
“Instead of doing what the swamp always does, which is spend more money on everything and make up excuses for why we can’t do what wee told the people we were going to do and more importantly what they elected us to do, we should have fought on that omnibus spending bill.
“Remember, (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer had shut the government down before that. When Chuck Schumer said amnesty was more important than funding our troops, we were well-positioned, we were poised, we were right on the cusp of victory, and yet we did what the swamp always does.
“We were ready to win and do what had to be done for national defense, hold the line on the other spending, fund the border security wall. We were in a position to do that and yet our leadership didn’t do that and Republicans failed to deliver on the promises we had made,” said Jordan.
He says Republicans have a chance to prove they can be trusted when they return to work next month.
“When we go back in September, we better put the border security wall funding on the spending bill and send that to the Senate,” said Jordan.
With all of the alleged failures of Republicans to fulfill promises in this Congress, why should GOP voters bother heading to the polls in November? Jordan says the alternative will be disastrous.
“You elect Democrats, they’re going to raise your taxes, they’re going to abolish ICE, they’re going to socialize medicine and they’re going to impeach the president,” said Jordan.
Jordan’s efforts to ascend the Republican leadership ladder was quickly met with accusations that he knew about and failed to report the sexual abuse of wrestlers by a team doctor while an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University in the 1980s and 1990s.
Those accusations were met with a long list of former coaches and athletes who said Jordan never covered anything up and never would. Some of the allegations were eventually retracted.
Jordan says the bias of the media was on full display with that story.
“If you’re a conservative, they’re out to get you. If you support the president and you’re fighting to support the president, particularly in this issue of the Department of Justice, they’re out to get you,” said Jordan.
He also categorically denies any such cover-up and says it’s completely contrary to his fighting spirit.
“I’ve taken on the Speaker of the House from my own state. I’ve taken on the IRS when they were targeting people. I’ve taken on the Department of Justice and the FBI for the wrong they did when they took this dossier and took it to a secret court to spy on President Trump’s campaign.
“The idea that I would not stand up for our wrestlers is just ridiculous and everyone sees through that story,” said Jordan.