Why you should care
Because that was then, this is now.
As House Republicans rushed through a bill designed to partially repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare this week, the arguments against them sounded awfully familiar — because Republicans had used them before, when Obamacare was first passed.
Witness a prime example featuring OZY Editor-in-Chief Carlos Watson, who interviewed Paul Ryan on MSNBC in the heady summer of 2009. At the time, Ryan was a rising star on the Republican side and OZY but a gleam in Watson’s eye. Ryan, now the speaker of the House, objected to Democrats moving health care bills through committee after months of debate — and months before they’d actually pass what became the Affordable Care Act.
“I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read, that we don’t know what they cost,” Ryan told Watson at the time. This week, to cobble together the votes needed for a health care bill to pass, the 2017 version of Paul Ryan added fresh amendments to the massive bill as it hit the House floor — before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could tell lawmakers what it costs.
With Watson, Ryan 2009 talked up the time he spent meeting with constituents and slammed the “artificial deadline” of completing a bill before August recess — a deadline Democrats would not hit, amid internal squabbles. This week, House Republicans, under heavy pressure from Donald Trump’s White House, sped the bill through before taking off for a weeklong recess at home.
Here’s a transcript of the key exchange:
Watson: Congressman, I know not only have you been in Congress for several terms, but you worked on the Hill for a couple of different senators, and you know this issue has been around for a long time. Are Republicans being genuine in their complaint that this is moving too quickly?
Ryan: Well, yes. I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read that we don’t know what they cost. I mean, I don’t think that’s being [obstructionist]. I’ve already proposed other legislation. A number of Republicans are proposing alternatives. You can look at the Patients’ Choice Act on my Facebook page, and you’ll see there are many proposals that we have put out there that say: ‘Let’s get everybody insured. Let’s get everybody insured who has pre-existing conditions.’
You can do this without the government taking it over, without all these new taxes and new spending programs. And so we want to see health care reform done, but we want to do it right. And if you rush this thing through before anybody even knows what it is, that’s not good democracy. That’s not doing work for our constituents. What’s wrong with going home for August, having town hall meetings, listening to our constituents and then coming back in September and doing this right?