They did it. They really did it. Once again the House insisted on voting to repeal Obamacare, already a law approved by the Supreme Court. Today the vote was 229-195 with all Republicans and Democratic Reps. Jim Matheson (UT) and Mike McIntyre (NC) voting in favor of repealing the law.
How many times have there been votes on Obamacare? Yesterday, David Fahrenthold and Ed O’Keefe published a list that comes to 36, making today’s vote the 37th. That number doesn’t count votes in the Senate which would bring the total to the mid-50s.
Just voting has taken a great deal of time, but there have been untold additional hours in litigating and otherwise working to dismantle the president’s biggest legislative accomplishment. Today is at least the 43rd day since the GOP took over the House in January 2011 that they spent the day voting on this issue. That’s 43 days out of 281 days that they have held votes during that time. That’s 15 percent of the time on the House floor to repeal Obamacare.
Some people might consider this lack of activity an embarrassment for the House. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) put it a bit stronger when he said they have “truly lost their minds.” He explained his statement this way:
“Albert Einstein defined insanity as follows: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If his definition is true—and I won’t argue with Einstein—then House Republicans have truly lost their minds.”
If, through some magic, the House bill would pass the Senate and then be signed by the president, it would cost taxpayers $109 billion over the next ten years through the loss of Obamacare’s taxes, fees, and spending cuts.
More than that loss, however, is the loss to over one-third of the people in the United States. At this time these people would be the losers with the repeal of Obamacare:
129 million with pre-existing conditions would again be at the mercy of insurance companies;
105 million would again have lifetime limits on insurance company coverage;
71 million—including 34 million seniors—would lose no-cost preventive care, including mammograms and contraception;
18 million in the middle class would not receive a tax credit averaging $4,000 a year starting next year;
17 million children with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage;
13 million consumers who received more than $1 BILLION in rebates last year because Obamacare requires insurers to spend 80 percent of premiums on actual medical care would lose any future rebates;
6 million young adults—3.1 million of them previously uninsured–currently allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance would no longer have this benefit;
6 million seniors receiving discounts—more than $6 billion so far—on prescription drugs would lose this benefit.
In addition, new resources to fight fraud would be eliminated, efforts that recouped $4.2 billion just this past year because of attempts to defraud seniors and taxpayers.
The GOP’s obsession with taking health care benefits away from more than 100 million people in this nation is a waste of time, a waste of money, and harmful to the tens of millions of Americans already benefiting from Obamacare. It’s a major reason that this Congress is the most unproductive ever.
One estimate for all this effort from the GOP House is at least $55 million. That’s what it has cost to continually try to eradicate the legislation that will help most of the people in the United States by providing affordable health care.
Think Progress has four ideas on how this $55 million could have been used to help the people of the United States:
Restore cuts from sequestration to Title X family planning programs and Title V maternal and child health services. The 5-percent cut to their budgets costs them $47.5 million. The House could use their $55 million to expand funding for these important programs.
Double the Department of Justice’s budget for sexual assault services, which has currently been authorized a $50 million budget. The funding for this program goes to states to support rape crisis centers and other nongovernmental organizations to provide direct intervention, core services, and other assistance to the victims of sexual assault. Current funding is so inadequate that some states receive less than $300,000 and many programs lack the resources to meet victims’ needs.
Grant a request for $50 million to train 5,000 new mental health professionals as part of a new initiative to expand mental health treatment and prevention services. People who oppose any gun-control legislation yammer on about the gaps in the mental health system; the House could use its $55 million to start filling these.
Help states implement paid leave policies. President Obama included a $50 million State Paid Leave Fund in his 2011 budget to provide start-up support for states that want to enact paid leave for workers. More than 40 percent of workers lack access to paid sick leave, leaving them with no choice except to go to work when they are sick or their sick family members need help. The $55 million could help them.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) perfectly described the idiocy of today’s vote against Obamacare in the House:
“The guys who’ve been up here the last year, we can go home and say, ‘Listen, we voted 36 different times to repeal or replace Obamacare.’ Tell me what the new guys are supposed to say?”
He, like all the other GOP representatives who pushed House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) into the insanity of a 37th vote, just wanted to prove that they could cast a vote against Obamacare, a law that helps the people of their states.
Almost one-fourth of the children in Mulvaney’s state live under the poverty level, the percentage of people in poverty in South Carolina is higher than the national average, the unemployment rate is higher than the national level, almost 70 percent of the adults in the state are overweight or obese, and South Carolina is one of the unhealthiest states in the nation, ranking 46th in the nation. Obamacare helps Mulvaney’s constituents, and he votes against it.
The media about today’s vote didn’t concentrate on the results: those were a given. They concentrated instead on the repetitive uselessness of the vote—not good press for a political party trying to win the next election.
After its abject failure in last fall’s election, the Republican party commissioned a report on how to remake its image. One piece of advice was to be the party that is for something instead of always against something. The GOP House freshmen didn’t get the memo.
As Susan Milligan wrote:
“Voting dozens of times to repeal the health care law goes well beyond putting members on record. It merely serves to show the American public how dysfunctional Congress remains, with the hallowed chambers–where wars and budgets and civil rights have been debated–being converted into campaign arenas.”
Recently, Boehner wrote on his Facebook page that “Americans need common-sense solutions to create jobs.” Yet under his leadership, the House has passed not one job-creation bill. As leader of the House Republicans, he controls the issues in the House. Yes, Speaker Boehner, people in the country need these solutions. What are you doing about it, Speaker Boehner?