|June 23, 2017 |
"to elevate the condition
of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair
chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln
A Message from Senator
Lee: The Missing Ingredient in the BRCA:
No, the Senate healthcare bill released
yesterday does not repeal Obamacare. It doesn’t even significantly reform American healthcare.
taxes. It bails out insurance companies. It props up Obamacare through the next election. It lays out plans to slow Medicaid spending beginning in
2025, but that probably won’t happen. And it leaves in place the ham-fisted federal regulations that have driven up family health insurance
premiums by 140 percent since Obamacare was implemented.
As the bill is currently drafted, I won’t vote
On the other hand, I understand the opportunity Republicans have right now to help Americans get
better, more affordable coverage.
That’s why I joined the Senate working group on healthcare reform with
an open mind. I knew then, as I know now, that as one of the most conservative Republican Senators, I would have to compromise with the least
conservative Republican Senators to get something done. And compromise I have!
At the beginning of this
process, I wanted a full repeal of Obamacare. Despite campaigning on that very thing for eight years, my Republican colleagues disagreed.
So then I called for a partial repeal, like we passed in 2015 – and which conservatives were promised by our
leaders in January. A partial repeal would at least force Congress to start over on a new system that could work better.
So then I advocated repealing Obamacare’s regulations, which have been the primary
drivers of spiking premiums. I repeated this suggestion at every single meeting of the working group, and at every members lunch for several weeks.
Yet when the Better Care Reconciliation Act was unveiled yesterday, the core Obamacare regulations were largely untouched.
Far short of “repeal,” the Senate bill keeps the Democrats’ broken system intact, just with less spending on the poor
to pay for corporate bailouts and tax cuts. A cynic might say that the BCRA is less a Republican health care bill than a caricature of a
Republican health care bill.
Yet, for all that, I have not closed the door on voting for some version of it in
Conservatives have compromised on not repealing, on spending levels, tax credits, subsidies,
corporate bailouts, Medicaid, and the Obamacare regulations. That is, on every substantive question in the bill.
Having conceded to my moderate colleagues on all of the above, I now ask only that the bill be amended to include an opt-out provision, for
states or even just for individuals.
The reason Americans are divided about health care (like so many issues
today) is that we don’t know exactly how to fix it. Politicians hate to admit it, and partisans like to pretend otherwise. But it’s
And history teaches us that when we don’t know how to solve a problem, the best thing to do is to
experiment. We should test different ideas through a cooperative, bottom-up, trial-and-error process rather than imposing top-down, partisan
power-plays that disrupt the lives of hundreds of millions of people at a time.
Eight years ago Democrats
created a one-size-fits-all national health care system… and it’s collapsing around us. They couldn’t even make the darn website
Why do Republicans – who are supposedly skeptical of government miracle-working – expect
our one-size-fits-all scheme to work any better?
The only hope for actually solving the deep,
challenging problems in our health care system is to let people try out approaches other than the ones a few dozen politicians thought up inside the
And so, for all my frustrations about the process and my disagreements with the substance of
BCRA, I would still be willing to vote for it if it allowed states and/or individuals to opt-out of the Obamacare system free-and-clear to
experiment with different forms of insurance, benefits packages, and care provision options. Liberal states might try single-payer systems, while
conservatives might emphasize health savings accounts. Some people embrace association health plans or so-called “medishare” ministry
models. My guess is different approaches will work for different people in different places – like everything else in life.
The only way to find out what does work is to find out what doesn’t. We know the pre-Obamacare system was breaking down.
Now we know Obamacare is failing too. I doubt the BCRA system would fare much better, or that the next Pelosi-Sanders-Warren scheme Democrats cook
up wouldn’t be even worse.
To win my vote, the Republican health care
bill must create a little space for states and individuals to sidestep Washington’s arrogant incompetence, and see if they can do
At some point Washington elites might at least entertain the possibility that we may not have
all the answers. I think right now – with President Trump’s shocking upset of the establishment still fresh in our minds - would be a
good time for Congress to add a new ingredient to its legislative sausage: a dash of humility.
To win my vote,
the Republican health care bill must create a little space for states and individuals to sidestep Washington’s arrogant incompetence, and see
if they can do better.
Recent history suggests they couldn’t possibly do worse.
Click here to watch video
Issue in Focus: America First in the Americas
The United States has long sought a balance between participating in international organizations that promote the spread of
democracy and protecting the sovereignty of other countries. At times, this delicate balance has been lost and our ability to promote American
interests has been diminished.
Unfortunately, it appears our recent
involvement with the Organization of American States has tipped toward undermining the sovereignty of other nations.
The OAS was founded on the admirable principle that "Every State has the right to choose, without
external interference, its political, economic, and social system and to organize itself in the way best suited to it." And for decades, the
United States has been the single largest donor to the OAS.
While the OAS
has proven useful in opposing Communism and dictatorships like the ones in Cuba and Venezuela, some of its recent activities have contradicted its
founding principle. The organization has pressured Latin American nations to adopt social policies favored by progressive elites, not their own
people. Such initiatives, aided by U.S. funding, ignore the cultures of these countries and ultimately alienate their people from the United
The OAS exerts pressure on countries through the resolutions of
the General Assembly, executive actions of the Secretary General's office, and rulings of the Inter-American Court. The OAS has also used the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to force alien cultural practices on Latin American countries, including formal recommendations promoting
abortion in countries whose legal, cultural and religious practices defend life.
It has promoted abortion in countries party to the American Convention on Human Rights, which protects human beings from the moment of
conception. Countries like Paraguay took measures in 2016 to strengthen and protect their own pro-life standards in reaction to pressure coming from
the OAS and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The IACHR also has
promoted redefining the institution of marriage, including the 2016 Duque vs Colombia case where the IACHR stated that Colombia's - at the time
- traditional definition of marriage reflected, "an obtuse and stereotyped understanding of what a family is." Provocations like that serve
no useful purpose for the United States, and indeed hinder constructive engagement with the family-oriented countries of Latin America.
U.S. taxpayer dollars should not be spent overseas to advocate for political issues that
aren't even settled here at home. We must ensure that the $41.9 billion we spend on foreign assistance every year does not promote an agenda that many
foreigners and Americans alike find repugnant.
Trump has indicated his desire to rebalance our foreign policy
to better serve the American people. The State Department can significantly further this goal by ending the progressive cultural imperialism that the
OAS spread over the past eight years.
Our national interest lies in promoting security and economic prosperity
for Americans, not in telling other democracies what to do. Respecting the cultural and religious differences of our allies should be a top priority
for an administration that campaigned on breaking away from business-as-usual foreign policy. A longer"version of this op-ed first appeared in The Houston