Saturday, March 25, 2017

How Did Ryan Fumble The Vote?

Republicans stand behind Paul Ryan after he fumbles first big vote

How does one respond to such a headline?

Ryan fumbled the vote?

Americans are a highly intelligent people

No matter the politics, people of the United States

Whether Democrat or Republican

We need affordable health care

It is of intrinsic value

And should not be directly  subjected to the whims of the market

The first ethical question that was asked of me in a Health Care Ethics class

Is health care, a right or a privilege?

Either or creates a health care belief system

Obviously, it is a privilege in the United States

All other western countries have universal health insurance for its citizens

Obamacare covers just under 7 million Americans

Health Care in the United States is like a leviathan stuck in the middle of an ocean

Was TrumpCare going to cover less people and be more expensive?

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted in a surprisingly candid Friday press conference that his caucus was experiencing “growing pains” that caused him to fall short of delivering long-promised votes to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“Yeah, we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” Ryan told reporters. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take us to replace this law.”
It was a stunning admission from the leader of a party that has been promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act for seven years and now controls the White House and both houses of Congress.
“Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains, and well, we’re feeling those growing pains today,” Ryan said. “Doing big things is hard.”
It certainly appears that way. The lead-up to Friday’s health care vote was filled with confusion and uncertainty. House Republicans, mobbed by reporters, seemed to have no idea whether their leadership had enough votes, even as lawmakers took to the floor to praise the legislation in a debate that was supposed to end by 3:30 p.m. for the vote. “Why can’t we be positive?” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy asked one reporter. “I’m an optimistic man.”
“I don’t have any more information than you,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said Friday morning. And Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said it would be a “cliffhanger.”
Party leaders usually aim for certainty when bringing major pieces of legislation up for a vote. But Ryan was facing pressure outside his control: the impatience of a self-styled dealmaker president who initially demanded that a vote take place on Friday, whether or not Republicans could pass it.
The president’s ultimatum, delivered to House Republicans by Trump budget chief Mick Mulvaney on Thursday night, put Ryan in a tight spot. The message was delivered in a closed-door meeting that several members described as “emotional.” Trump said negotiations were closed after a last-minute change that would have allowed states to phase out essential health benefits like maternity care, while simultaneously creating a fund that would restore some of those benefits by temporarily retaining Obamacare’s Medicare tax. This split-the-baby approach was meant to appeal to House GOP conservatives and moderates, who both opposed the health care replacement bill. But it backfired, with both sides remaining unhappy.

House Speaker Paul Ryan holds a news conference after Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act bill.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan holds a news conference after Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act before a vote. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

On Friday morning, a few hours before the vote was scheduled, Ryan stood in a back corner of the House chamber with his chief of staff, Jonathan Burks, and two other aides. He conferred briefly with Burks and then stood, his elbow on the railing and his chin in his hand, for a minute or two. He looked pensive and dejected as he stared at the wall showing results for an earlier set of votes.
At 3 p.m., 30 minutes before the vote was scheduled, Ryan talked to the president and advised him the votes weren’t there, and the two decided to pull the bill.
Trump and the White House had pushed for a vote in order to put the bill’s opponents on the record. But Ryan’s concern was that such a vote would end up hurting only moderate Republicans — many representing competitive districts — who would cast the hard vote out of loyalty to him, only to suffer electoral consequences in the midterm elections next year. Meanwhile, the hard-line Republicans opposed to the bill would not be punished by deep-red conservative districts.
Ryan quickly delivered the news to his caucus members, who were gathered in the Capitol basement, playing down the significance of the measure’s failure.
“The speaker just said, ‘We’re done for the day. Let’s all go home. Let’s not get angry, let’s not do anything rash. This is just part of what happens. And everybody have a good weekend,’” recalled Morgan Griffith, R-Va.
In his press conference, Ryan mentioned that Republicans would move on to other priorities, like regulatory reform and securing the border. He admitted that tax reform, which he promised to deliver after repealing Obamacare, would be more difficult now that his health care initiative had failed. In his own Oval Office comments following the vote, Trump signaled that his eye was on overhauling the tax system.

House Speaker Paul Ryan holds a news conference after Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act bill.
View photos

Ryan speaks to the press after Republicans cancel a vote on the American Health Care Act on Friday. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The failure is likely to raise concerns about Ryan’s leadership, which was already being questioned by some outside Republican figures who worried that he did not have the political skills to get his caucus into line.
But House Republicans appear to be sticking by Ryan, since they understand how deeply divided their caucus is on the issue. And some are doubtless relieved that they were not forced to take a vote on a divisive and unpopular bill.
“The speaker is a human being,” Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said shortly after the bill was pulled. He said Ryan struggled with the diversity of the caucus.
“Everybody’s going to say he should have done something different,” Griffith said. “Obviously, something could have been done differently that might have changed this, but what it is, nobody really knows.”
Other members praised Ryan’s willingness to listen to all members of the caucus.
“This man has a deep, deep respect in the House of Representatives,” said Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb. “He has been clear, he has been open. He is accessible.”
What remains unclear is how Trump and Ryan’s relationship will evolve going forward. The president, starting by promising “insurance for everybody” in January, dramatically shifted the terms of the debate. Ryan initially supported a clean repeal of Obamacare, with a replacement to come later.
Trump was clear in his remarks on Friday that he did not blame Ryan, a validation that could be helpful for Ryan’s future — if that attitude is here to stay. The president said Ryan had worked “very, very hard” on the effort, and he expressed disappointment with the conservative House Freedom Caucus members who didn’t get on board. Ryan also kept it positive.
“He’s really been fantastic,” he said of Trump.
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