Since it’s passage several years ago, The Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare”, has been a controversial piece of legislation. It’s widely considered the greatest accomplishment of former Democratic President Barack Obama, but it’s also been a political target of the Republican Party since its introduction.
Obamacare features a series of debates ranging from politics to philosophy. Touching upon the latter: does government truly have the right to govern healthcare? Even more at the heart of the debate: is healthcare a right? This has been a major point of libertarians, who believe in free market capitalism and subscribe to the notion that healthcare is a service, not a right. Conservatives, in general, agree, while both also point to cost concerns.
Liberals generally disagree, claiming that healthcare is a right. While healthcare itself is a service provided by workers, the product is people’s health. The product is often what the Left points to in their defense of government interference. This is why many Democrats either support Obamacare or have gone as far as being critical for the legislation for not going far enough.
The picture painted here is one of complicated partisanship. The Left and the Right are miles apart on Obamacare, but for that reason, are closer than ever to the establishment Republican replacement being dubbed both “Ryancare” and “Trumpcare.”
It is also for this reason that all of Congress would be wise to reject the legislation. Aside from it being riddled with problems and being correctly labeled “Obamacare Lite”, it is also an enormous and unnecessary political risk.
In the United States Senate, Republicans can only afford four defections and the number of party members who have expressed serious concern outnumber that. In the House, the picture is hardly much better, with the number of concerned Republicans teetering close to the number the party can afford to lose.
While it’s not necessarily clear that Ryancare is dead in the House of Representatives, it is almost certainly dead on arrival in the United States Senate. Thus, it begs the question: why would any Representative support it?
Speaker Paul Ryan is fighting a losing battle. When conservative critics claim that the proposed legislation violates campaign promises that Republicans generally ran on, they’re correct. When libertarian critics claim this is simply “Obamacare Lite”, they are correct. The bill is a weak attempt by Speaker Ryan and the Republican establishment to pass a safe alternative to Obamacare, without actually doing anything radical like total repeal.
Whether or not liberals are correct here is irrelevant, as their opposition creates another problem for moderate Republicans such as Speaker Ryan. More often than not, when Republicans ignore the right wing of their party, they do so by leaning on the moderate center or the left. Both are in the opposition here, however.
Because of the open opposition from all sides, members of both congressional chambers would be wise to oppose the new Republican alternative to Obamacare. It is a political risk that will cost them in the next election, with fierce opposition from all ends of the political spectrum.
How does a politician expect to win while losing progressive, liberal, conservative and libertarian support just to gain favor with their own political party’s establishment?