Obama Responds To The Senate Bill Intended To Repeal Obamacare

"This debate has always been about something bigger than politics."

After weeks of silence, former President Barack Obama spoke out in opposition to the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Today, Senate Republicans released a draft of their version of the AHCA for the first time after the House squeezed through passage of the bill a few weeks ago. Many anticipated Obama to respond, and he did so in the form of a lengthy Facebook post late Thursday afternoon.

"The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill," Obama said. "It's a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else."


Critics have pointed out that the main objective of the AHCA is to eliminate Obamacare taxes Republicans believe unfairly burden the wealthy. One aspect of the AHCA eliminates an Obama-era tax of 3.8 percent on investment income for people earning more than $200,000 a year. Once a repeal of AHCA is accomplished, the Senate plans to move on to a tax reform plan it hopes will stimulate growth in the U.S. economy. 

The new Senate bill comes into the public eye after the House celebrated passage just a few weeks ago, despite public outcry over proposed cuts to Medicaid and a Congressional Budget Office score that predicted 23 million Americans would lose their health insurance. Now, Senate Republicans are faced with the prospect of how to change the bill and make it more palatable, politically, before it becomes law. 

Even President Donald Trump, who hosted a celebration in the Rose Garden after the bill passed the House, reportedly called the health care plan "mean" during the drafting process. In a not-so-subtle reference to those comments, Obama mentioned the effect the bill will have on many Americans.

"Simply put, if there's a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm," he wrote. "And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation."

Along with the complication of getting the bill passed, the Senate faces another challenge: public approval of the AHCA. The New York Times' research using M.R.P. (multilevel regression and poststratification) analysis and eight national polls found that there isn't a single state where the AHCA enjoys more than 40 percent support, making a historically disliked piece of legislation. 

The result is a surprisingly unified country.

Emma Kapotes / A Plus

In fact, recent polls have found that support amongst Republicans is falling A Morning Consult/POLITICO poll found that since April, opposition to the bill has doubled. One in three Republicans are now opposed to AHCA, and jut 56 percent said they supported the bill in June. 

While the Senate version of the bill is expected to lower the number of people losing insurance, there's plenty of reason to believe it won't help the overall approval ratings of the AHCA. The new bill calls for significant cuts to Medicaid, a move only 12 percent of U.S. adults said they supported in an April Pew Research Center poll.

With not a single state having more than 40 percent support for the bill, it's possible public pressure could keep enough Republican senators from voting "yes" for the bill to pass. Still, plenty of congressional reporters are confident Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will find the votes to pass the legislation. 

And as far as Obama is concerned, public pressure is the only way to stop the bill.

"If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family," Obama wrote. "After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It's about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that's always worth fighting for."

Cover photo: Shutterstock / Evan El-Amin


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