Rich Kelsey this morning posted an essay arguing that the defeat of the American Health Care Act (“AHCA”) by the House Freedom Caucus was a victory for everday Americans over our evil political parties.
Rich’s piece was well-written, thoughtful, and wrong.
The reality is that, once again, many of my fellow committed conservatives have made the perfect the enemy of the good, which once again has resulted in the preservation of the bad.
As Rich himself admits, the AHCA “cut taxes, ended funding of Planned Parenthood, opened healthcare choices a bit more, and was less expensive over time.”
Rich calls this only a “marginal” difference over Obamacare. I call it a good start.
What Rich and many other of my fellow committed conservatives fail to grasp is that a legislative process that involves 535 inflated egos divided between two houses with separate, distinct, and cumbersome rules and that is subject to a veto by the most inflated ego in the land requires some degree of compromise.
We did not get to the enormous size and scope of government with which we are currently burdened overnight. The Democrats had and continue to have the patience to take what they can get at any given time and achieve their statist agenda incrementally.
Granted, Obamacare did happen in one fell swoop, but that became possible only because the Democrats at that time enjoyed supermajorities in both houses of Congress and a Democrat president.
If the Republicans currently enjoyed those numbers, then we could and would have crafted a sweeping reform bill fully repealing and replacing Obamacare. But we don’t, and we have to work within reality.
The first reality is that only portions of Obamacare can be repealed and replaced by a simple majority of 51 senators through the arcane process of budget reconciliation. The AHCA was designed to accomplish as much as could be accomplished through this process so that no Democrat votes would be needed (given that none should be expected for any form of conservative health care reform).
Once the AHCA was passed, the groundwork would have been laid to build upon it with future legislation. Any such future legislation would have been subject to filibuster, but even if the Democrats could have successfully obstructed these reforms, they would have had to force their nine vulnerable incumbents who are up for reelection in 2018 into the position of having to cast and answer for some pretty unpopular votes.
So, was the AHCA perfect? God no. It could have been improved in numerous ways, and such improvements would have been made during consideration in the Senate and then in the joint House-Senate conference committee.
But once again, many of my fellow committed conservatives, via the House Freedom Caucus, made the perfect the enemy of the good.
Once again, many conservatives thought that in order to be a committed conservative, they had to insist on our elected representatives being purist conservatives.
And once again, the beneficiaries of this uncompromising attitude are the Democrats, who once again get to keep their huge inefficient wealth-redistributionist government programs in place unmolested, to the detriment of the American people and the conservative cause.
So, thanks to the uncompromising purism of the House Freedom Caucus, Obamacare remains in full force and effect and our president has lost significant political capital, which in turn will make it even harder to ever repeal and replace Obamacare.
In short, thanks to the Freedom Caucus and many committed conservatives across the country who supported their purist stance, we are now stuck with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.
Once again, the purist conservatives won the argument while the Democrats still get to determine the laws under which we all have to live.
If the goal of the Freedom Caucus and of committed conservatives generally is to advance the cause of conservatism in our laws, this was an unmitigated fail.
Author: Ken Falkenstein
Ken Falkenstein is the Managing Editor of Committed Conservative and brings a wealth of experience and expertise in public affairs to the job. Ken served in the U.S. Army in the last years of the Cold War as a Russian linguist for military intelligence and the NSA. After leaving the Army, he earned his degree in Secondary Education from Old Dominion University, where he also wrote a popular column in the student newspaper.
Upon graduation, Ken worked as a Legislative Aide to two Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates. Ken also served as Corresponding Secretary of the Young Republican Federation of Virginia, managed several successful political campaigns, and managed governmental affairs operations for a local Realtor association.
In 1995, Ken moved to Washington, DC to serve as a Legislative Assistant to Sen. John Warner (R-VA). While working for Sen. Warner, Ken attended law school at night, earning his J.D. with honors from the George Mason University School of Law (n/k/a The Antonin Scalia Law School). Since that time, Ken has practiced as a civil litigation attorney, including serving for three years as an Associate City Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Ken previously was a contributor to the highly-regarded political blog Bearing Drift and was a weekly co-host of The Steve Batton Radio Program. In 2016, Ken ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia Beach School Board. Ken is also a former President of the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads.
Ken now lives outside of Denver, Colorado with his wife, Kim, and three sons, Adam, Dylan, and Joshua, who has Down syndrome. Ken’s writing is motivated and informed primarily by his concern for his kids’ future.