On May 4th, the American Health Care Act (a watered-down version of “repeal and replace Obamacare”) passed the House of Representatives 217 to 213. Twenty Republicans joined with all 193 Democrats to vote against the bill. Who were the twenty Republicans and why did they vote the way they did?
Two of the twenty are among the highest scoring Congressmen in the Liberty Index of the Republican Liberty Caucus; namely, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who finished third or fourth each of the past two years with an average score of 98; and, Walter Jones, who scored well above the House Republican average. A third Congressman, Andy Biggs of Arizona, is a freshman representative and so hasn’t yet registered a score in the index. Nonetheless, he is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and can be presumed committed to the cause of liberty. For these Congressmen, the problem with the bill is that it didn’t go far enough in repealing and replacing Obamacare.
The other seventeen Republican Congressmen scored at or below the House Republican average on the Liberty Index. In some cases, well below. Thus the dilemma to President Trump and the House Republican Leadership. At most, they could have picked up three votes by re-jiggering the bill to be more of a pure repeal and replace bill. But, they would have lost many more votes from among the weak sisters in the Republican Party.
There are two problems in fashioning legislation that you actually want to pass both chambers and get signed into law. The first is the whip count. Counting the “ayes” and the “nays,” and bringing the bill to a vote when you can win. Also, making deals, as you might have to, to buy some votes. This is like making sausage. Most people don’t want to know what goes on in the kitchen.
The second problem is fashioning legislation that will expand the constituency for Liberty. Legislation that will incline more people to voting for the right kind of candidates. Basically, increasing the number of people paying taxes and reducing the number of people receiving subsidies. We want to roll a snowball downhill, not push a rock uphill.
Link to BBC’s comparison of Obamacare to Trumpcare:
Link to Liberty Index: