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Raul Labrador: GOP health bill ‘has no natural constituency’

Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho said Thursday the House GOP health plan must be flawed, because people keep calling his office and attacking it.

“Most people are opposed to the bill, and it’s interesting, because it’s from both the right and the left,” Mr. Labrador, Idaho Republican, said. “There’s no natural constituency for this bill, which is one of the most frustrating things about this bill. We’re trying to figure out who, exactly, it’s trying to appease.”

Mr. Labrador is among members of the House Freedom Caucus who are demanding “fundamental changes” to Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s plan to replace Obamacare, saying it fails to drive down premiums and keep their promises to wipe out the Affordable Care Act.

Three Freedom Caucus members — Reps. Dave Brat of Virginia, Gary Palmer of Alabama and Mark Sanford of South Carolina — joined every Democrat in opposing the package during the 19-17 vote, making them the first Republican lawmakers to formally dissent to the plan after it cleared a pair of committees last week.

Mr. Ryan has said he is open to refinements, but not sweeping changes to the bill endorsed by Mr. Trump.

The president hasn’t delved into the nitty-gritty of health reform, at least not publicly, though the speaker said Mr. Trump remains the linchpin of the effort to replace Obamacare’s mandates and taxes with a more free-market system that relies on age-based tax credits and reins in Medicaid coverage for the poor.

“He is helping bridge gaps in our conference,” Mr. Ryan said of the president. “He is a constructive force to help us get to a resolution, so that we get consensus on how to repeal and replace Obamacare. It’s been very helpful.”

Conservatives say the program amounts to an expensive entitlement and allows President Obama’s vast expansion of Medicaid to linger for too long, until 2020.

Efforts to appease them would come at the expense of centrists who worry the bill is too harsh and will hurt them at the ballot box in 2018. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 24 million fewer people will be insured a decade from now under the GOP plan.

Mr. Labrador rejected centrists’ fears as misguided during a “Conversations with Conservatives” event hosted by the Heritage Foundation on Thursday.

He said Republicans lost the presidency and total House votes — even if they kept the majority — in 2012 because they “went soft” after seizing control of the chamber in 2010.

Mr. Labrador said the health debate shouldn’t be seen as a referendum on Mr. Ryan’s leadership, though he praised House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who as speaker during the early years of President Obama’s tenure followed through on her liberal promises.

“She knew what it meant to have a majority,” he said.

Mr. Labrador said those ideas ended up being “catastrophic” to the U.S., but she defended her principles.

“The difference is that we actually believe that our ideas are going to be better for the American people,” he said. “If we truly believe that, then let’s go all the way. Maybe Paul Ryan needs to take a couple of lessons from Nancy Pelosi and learn what it means to have a majority. Having a majority does not mean playing defense, it means playing offense, and doing everything that we told the American people that we were going to to do.”

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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