March 29, 2017

Credit: DonkeyHotey, Flickr

The colossal failure of House Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare continues to reverberate. The important part of the story leads us back to the influence of the alternate Republican Party, the dark money Koch Network.

Never underestimate the Koch Brothers network in influencing GOP lawmakers. The Kochs announced that they would oppose Trumpcare, which they criticized as Obamacare 2.0. Prior to the date set for a vote, the loopy libertarians (read the account of their bizarre ideological underpinnings in Jane Mayer’s Dark Money) announced the “creation of a special fund to support House members who vote against the health care bill.” In essence, the Kochs were letting their House acolytes know that if the party attempted to discipline them by cutting access to campaign funds, the Koch network would step into the breach.

One would expect the Tea Party to be at the beck and call of the Kochs, and that happened. The loudest cries for an outright repeal came from the House Freedom Caucus and its leader, Rep. Mark Meadows. (By the way, one under reported angle of the negotiations over the bill is how the Freedom Caucus rolled Donald Trump to excise essential health benefits provisions from the House bill. Fresh from that victory, the HFC upped the ante to Trump, who then called off negotiations and demanded a vote. And again, Trump lost – Speaker Ryan may not have had a great week but he’d have been the leader of the Suicide Squadron if a vote had taken place).

Congressman Meadows returned to the news this week as the House turns to another priority, tax cuts for the wealthy. Fiscal rectitude is the unshakeable principle of the Tea Party until . . . well, here is Rep. Meadows’s expressing the Freedom Caucus’s thinking: "Does it have to be, what they would say, revenue neutral? Or do you have to have an offset like with the border adjustment tax? ... I think there's been a lot of flexibility in terms of some of my contacts in conservatives in terms of not making it totally offset ...”

But wait, wouldn’t that increase the deficit?

Now we find out that the House repeal and replace effort is dead but not loving it. Speaker Ryan has announced that the House is working to revive Trumpcare – he made this promise in a most sacred forum, in a promise to donors.

Much of the influence on healthcare and other issues is being driven by donors, particularly vast dark money networks. The Kochs are hardly alone, as Jane Mayer’s recent profile of billionaire Breitbart backer Robert Mercer shows.

America needs a better class of billionaires.

Republican Party, Koch Brothers, Obamacare

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