Rand Paul: Obamacare Champion?
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was a constant thorn in the side of President Barack Obama, but now that Donald Trump is in the White House the Tea Party Republican has show he has no intention of changing his tune. The GOP has been struggling to put together their long-awaited “replacement” for the Affordable Care Act and, despite being ostensibly on the same side of the aisle, Paul is causing just as many issue for his party, too. But does this make him an Obamacare champion? Not even close.
Without a doubt it’s refreshing to see Paul take on his own party with the same stubborn, libertarian streak that jammed legislation to a standstill during the Obama years. Paul isn’t just remarkably unswerving, he’s also got a gift of the theatrical that can be quite amusing if not being used to directly thwart your own agenda. He brought that sense of theatrics to Capitol Hill during his quest to uncover the “secret GOP healthcare bill” meant to serve as the replacement for the Affordable Care Act – one that the GOP apparently won’t even let Paul see until it is complete.
“I have been told that the House Obamacare bill is under lock & key, in a secure location, & not available for me or the public to view,” Paul tweeted, according to Business Insider. “This is unacceptable. This is the biggest issue before Congress and the American people right now.” He added, “What is the House leadership trying to hide? My guess is, they are trying to hide their ‘Obamacare Lite’ approach. Renaming and keeping parts of Obamacare, new entitlements and extending medicaid expansion are not the #FullRepeal we promised.”
Paul even went on a “search” for the bill, coming up with nothing. “Thursday, Paul tried to track down a copy of the draft, but he said he was denied access to a room when aides inside told the senator there wasn’t a bill to see. At one point, a GOP staff member allowed House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy and a dozen or so reporters into the room to inspect it themselves to see that it was, in fact, bill-less,” reports CNN.com. The search escapade even brought in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, with the high ranking Democrat jokingly urging Paul to “release the hounds.”
By Friday there was still nothing to see, and Paul continued his drumbeat over the lack of transparency in writing the new healthcare reform bill. “I think everybody knows I want to see the bill and that I think they’ve had a PR disaster by putting it under lock and key and trying to keep it out of the view of legislators and the public,” Paul told CNN in an interview.
But while Paul’s antics may have become a rare moment of bipartisanship, that doesn’t make Paul any champion for Obamacare. His biggest issues with the possible new healthcare reform plan is his frustration that it may be too similar to the ACA – an “Obamacare-lite” as he refers to it. After all, this was the man who called Obamacare akin to slavery, and admonished the administration for requiring minimum standards of care in all insurance plans or requiring every American to have health insurance in the hopes of widening the pool and lowering costs for everyone.
It must be remembered that Paul has his own healthcare reform plan, so he has his own reasons to see the GOP version fail. He wants an insurance plan based entirely on HSAs (health savings accounts) and individual payments, and without any sort of government subsidies – either the income-based subsidies of Obamacare or the age-based ones that allegedly will be in the GOP replacement plan.
So yes, Senator Rand Paul is toying with the Republicans, and the Democrats are loving it, but he’s definitely no champion of Obamacare. However, right now we should probably be content remembering that the enemy of our enemy can sometimes be our friend.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia commons