A devilish side of me is relieved by the fact that large numbers of Republican voters are now discovering the obvious – the GOP is to political parties what CNN is to news coverage. After all, the first step to solving a problem is recognizing the severity of the problem. In this case, the incontrovertible problem is that there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties.
Yesterday, not only did seven Republicans vote against repealing even part of Obamacare, there was another vote in which 10 Republicans expressed their solidarity with Medicaid and Obamacare. Rather than providing a vision for patient-centered, market-driven health care, the following 10 Republicans voted to “express the sense of the Senate that Medicaid expansion is a priority and that Obamacare must be improved”:
- Capito, R-W.Va.
- Cassidy, R-La.
- Collins, R-Maine
- Enzi, R-Wyo.
- Gardner, R-Colo.
- Heller, R-Nev.
- McCain, R-Ariz.
- Murkowski, R-Alaska
- Portman, R-Ohio
- Sullivan, R-Alaska
The Medicaid program is an appalling blot on America’s consciousness. As late as 1990, nearly 25 years into the program, there were just 22.9 million enrolled at a cost of $41 billion. As late as the end of the Clinton presidency, there were 34.5 million enrolled at a cost of $117 billion. Now, between Medicaid and CHIP there are 74.5 million people enrolled at a cost of $410 billion, plus an additional $150 billion spent by the states. Enrollment and costs are set to spiral out of control, lining the pockets of the hospitals and insurance cartel.
We spend almost as much on this program as we spend on the military. And this program keeps people in poverty, offers horrendous care, distorts prices, and contributes to sickening administrative costs, burdens on doctors, and inflating the cost of health care for the rest of us.
Yet these Republicans have no problems with it. And frankly, as I noted last week, aside from a handful of honest conservatives, most “mainstream” Republicans are for the status quo but won’t publicly say so. This is what allows the left flank of the party to operate so freely and is the reason why Democrats don’t have a similar problem on their “right” flank.
As you can see from the list of names, this is not just a blue-state problem. Capito, Cassidy, Enzi, McCain, Murkowski, Portman, and Sullivan are all from states Trump carried in the 2016 election.
Republicans lie to us during the elections. Even the most liberal Republicans not only campaigned against Obamacare but actually sounded a lot like yours truly in demanding that we address the root cause of health care inflation and market distortions. One of my Twitter followers, “Restive Rabble,” compiled an endless list of Republicans sounding like free-market conservatives on health care. In an op-ed from 2015, Lisa Murkowski wrote, “The country needs to address the cost of care, not just force people to buy insurance.”
But nothing has changed in policy, politics, or process since these critters made their promises to the American people. If anything, the price inflation and government-sponsored monopoly has gotten worse than previously thought, making the case for free-market health care even stronger.
So, what do Republicans stand for? Maybe they are good on other issues?
Of course not. They can’t even agree not to turn the military into a transgender hospital with castration surgery (covered by Medicaid?!) and hormone therapy … during a time of war! Even Republicans from red states, such as Shelby in Alabama, Hatch in Utah, McCain in Arizona, and Ernst in Iowa, threw a tantrum over Trump protecting our military from Obama’s disgraceful and morally degrading social engineering. So much for the big, strong, tough Joni Ernst and her “castrate the pigs" ad. I guess she meant to say “castrate the soldiers” … and pay for the side effects through Medicaid for the rest of their lives.
Folks, I don’t know what it’s going to take for our people to wake up and recognize that this party is irremediably broken. We are just as likely to succeed in promoting free markets and traditional values in the Democrat Party as we are in the Republican Party.
If this week serves as the wake-up moment to promote a Convention of the State and either start a new party or dramatically overhaul the primary process, perhaps this betrayal would have been worth it all along. We cannot fix a problem we refuse to recognize.