In yet another futile waste of time and taxpayer money – a- the U.S. Senate voted yesterday to repeal key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), while at the same time stripping federal funding for Planned Parenthood and withdrawing healthcare coverage from more than 17 million Americans. There have been more than 50 previous attempts by the GOP House and Senate to dismantle ObamaCare, but this vote is likely to precipitate the president having to actually take out and use his veto pen.
The Administration has said that the bill passed by the Senate along party lines, which as part of the “budget reconciliation process” enables Congress to consider budget-related issues while prohibiting a Senate filibuster by Democrats – is dead on arrival.
“This legislation is being considered by the Senate just days ahead of the December 15 deadline for Marketplace coverage that starts on January 1, 2016. Rather than refighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle-class families, and create new jobs,” said the veto threat message from the Office of Budget and Management Wednesday. “If the President were presented with H.R. 3762, as amended by the Senate amendment, he would veto the bill.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the House are obsessed with political show votes, which are more than simply empty gestures destined to go nowhere – because they seriously threaten the healthcare of millions of Americans. McConnell claims that “…Democrats have a particular responsibility to the millions their law has hurt already to help pass (the repeal)…I think the president has a particular responsibility to the millions his law has hurt already to then sign it.”
But the Senate bill is designed to eliminate help for low-income Americans for purchasing insurance – it is designed to eliminate the federal subsidies to about 6 million low- and moderate-income families. The bill also halts the expansion of Medicaid for millions of poor that has been adopted by more than 30 states. The reconciliation bill would also strip federal funding from approximately 700 health centers for Planned Parenthood throughout the U.S. that annually provide healthcare services to nearly 3 million women and men – the Republican’s direct punishment for the now-infamous, highly doctored and discredited videos produced by an anti-abortion group. The bill was purportedly designed to cut the deficit over 10 years, because Republicans know that according to the Congressional Budget Office repeal of ObamaCare would actually add $137 billion to the deficit over the same decade. So what additional social safety-net programs will they look to gut now?
The Republican bill was to take effect over a two year period to allow for changes to the healthcare law intended to help more Americans, but it is really designed, should a Republican be elected president, to foreshadow complete repeal of ObamaCare – which the Republicans have been dead set on since its passage in 2010 as evidence by the dozens of votes they held to repeal in the last five years. Consider that these are the same Republicans who claim: “It’s time to take a stand for the rights of all human life, including the unborn, and start doing more to protect the well-being of women, mothers, and their families,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). In diametric opposition to this stance, they voted three times yesterday against sensible gun legislation in the wake of the recent tragedies in Colorado, and San Bernardino, CA. Instead, they choose to rescind healthcare for seventeen million Americans at the beginning of winter, then have the nerve to ask these same Americans and the rest of us to vote for a Republican for president.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.