Two House committees — Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce — plan to start reviewing the legislation this week. The bill must also move through the Budget and Rules committees before the full House can vote on it. Republican leaders say they want that to happen before Congress' spring break begins April 7.
In many ways, calling out politicians for hypocrisy is almost too easy. Worse, hypocrisy is so common, it can be boring to talk about.But once in a while, the dynamic is so strong, and so jarring, even the most jaded and cynical of political observers have to pause and take note. Consider, for example, how House Republicans are proceeding with their alternative to the Affordable Care Act.
Committee votes are likely begin as early as tomorrow.And on the surface, that's plainly crazy. Lawmakers have no idea what the Republican bill costs, how many it will cover, how many Americans will lose their insurance, or what the impact will be on the budget deficit. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) hopes to rush the process to prevent everyone -- voters, reporters, lawmakers, stakeholders, et al -- from coming to terms with just how bad a bill he's produced, so committees are poised to vote on a blueprint members know little about.But just below the surface, the picture looks even less flattering. For years, Republicans have complained bitterly that when "Obamacare" was coming together, Democrats wrote the bill behind closed doors, then rushed it through the legislative process. In reality, that's never been altogether fair -- the ACA was publicly available for a month before a single vote was cast, and it was the subject of 130 hearings across the five committees, all as part of a debate that lasted over a year -- but we nevertheless now see the same lawmakers who whined writing a bill in private and trying to jam it down everyone's throats.Republicans said the ACA was written without bipartisan input, which isn't true, and which hasn't stopped them from writing their alternative plan without even trying to solicit bipartisan input.Republicans said deductibles are too high under the ACA, which led them to write a bill in which deductibles will be even higher.Republicans said it was an outrageous abuse to pass elements of the ACA through the budget reconciliation process, and yet here we are, watching them try to push their own reform bill through the budget reconciliation process.Republicans attacked "Obamacare" for not reaching universal coverage, and now they're embracing a plan that would make the uninsured rate worse, not better.New York's Jon Chait had a piece in early January, highlighting the irony: "[T]he claims that conservatives have falsely made about passing Obamacare provide a true description of the Republican plan to undo it."There are all sorts of reasons to balk at the GOP health care plan. Save a little space on the list for the breathtaking hypocrisy on display.