It is no secret that most Americans do not trust our political institutions, particularly Congress. How will we ever restore confidence in Congress? If Congress fails to completely repeal Obamacare, we will have broken our promise to the American people.
In our everyday lives we soon lose faith in those who tell us they will do one thing, and don't. Similarly, we trust those who keep their promises. We learn we can count on them. We believe in and respect them. When we keep our promises, we develop integrity. People come to expect us to keep our word. This happens institutionally as well as individually.
The Republicans in office today at the federal level, from the president, to the Senate, and to the furthest back bencher of the House of Representatives, promised to repeal Obamacare. Everyone, every voter, whether Democrat, Republican, or of any other persuasion, understood what that meant. It meant that Obamacare would be completely gone, as if it didn't exist.
President Trump said we would repeal this "disastrous" and "calamitous" law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress would repeal Obamacare "root and branch." House Republicans said we would repeal Obamacare, not merely fix it, because it was a "knot of regulations, taxes, and mandates [that] cannot be untangled. We need a clean start....
Our promise was simple. It was clear. It was our word and our bond.
But the most recent House healthcare reform proposal does not come close to fulfilling our promises. It is far too complex, takes too long to explain, and requires multiple disjointed steps, instead of a straight clean path to repeal. It also relies on the audacity of an unelected bureaucrat to tell us, the people's representatives, what we can and cannot do, rather than the other way around.
This is not meant to denigrate the efforts of those who have worked on or support the American Health Care Act, as the first step in the convoluted healthcare reform effort is called. This bill does not fulfill our promise to the American people because it does not completely repeal Obamacare. Its policy will be virtually permanent, and will reinforce the idea that politicians do not keep their word.
Instead of simply keeping the promise that was understood by all, we are left trying to explain the inexplicable: why we are leaving a framework of Obamacare in place, while taking credit for its full repeal.
Our simple promise will not be fulfilled. Americans will once again hold the political establishment in contempt for wiggling out of a promise made. The House proposal prevents us from telling what should be our story: We kept our promise and we deserve your trust.
The loss of trust in our political institutions will continue. We will have further entrenched mistrust in Congress. Instead of showing America that Republicans can be trusted on this issue, and then on the tax reform plan, and then on the border issues, regulatory reform and a host of other promises made. Our voters will hold us in contempt for squandering what may be our last best hope of restoring the American dream.
Andy Biggs represents Arizona's 5th congressional district in Congress.
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