The shoe doesn’t fit
To the editor:
A letter here Monday described the legislative process of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as “the shoe being on the other foot”. Not even close.
The ACA’s legislative process lasted six months. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was introduced less than two months ago, spending 14 days in the House and just 6 in the Senate.
The ACA was debated for weeks in five committees. Amendments were allowed, and many Republican amendments passed. There were dozens of hearings in Senate committees, allowing consumers, medical professionals, health care organizations and companies to provide information and voice concerns. Debate on the Senate floor alone lasted 25 days.
The TCJA had no hearings. House Republicans allowed 4 hours of debate, and no amendments could be offered.
House Republicans refused to engage in ACA negotiations. With hopes of working together, Senate Democrats began their bill with a Republican plan calling for insurance exchanges and an individual mandate, but Republicans remained focused on their agenda of obstruction.
Democrats were not allowed to participate fully in the TCJA. With those elected representatives left out of the process, and no hearings, millions of citizens were denied a voice in the process.
In the three months the bipartisan conference committee worked on the final ACA bill, President Obama took questions at two televised Republican retreats and held a six hour televised bipartisan summit on health care.
It’s not clear if President Trump understands the TCJA beyond calling it a “Christmas gift”. A conference committee spent about week on the final TCJA. Most changes were done outside the committee, without Democrats.
Nancy Pelosi never spoke the words attributed to her in Monday’s letter. Two weeks before the final version of the ACA was passed, she spoke not to House Republicans, but to county workers attending a national legislative conference, telling them, “You’ve heard about the controversies, the process about the bill, but I don’t know if you’ve heard that it is legislation for the future – not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America. But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it – away from the fog of the controversy.”
In context, her statement is accurate regarding most bills, including the TCJA. We’re drowning in controversies, but we didn’t know everything in the bill two weeks ago, and we don’t know everything in it today. After this tax bill becomes law we’ll find out who really may benefit from any promised growth and opportunities.
Republicans have indicated their next “reform” will include Social Security and Medicare. Get ready for the other shoe to drop.