The House and Senate just took their first steps toward repealing the Affordable Care Act. But under the surface, Republican unity is crumbling—while Democrats are showing backbone. The Democrats really could win this thing. But have to act fast.
MoveOn is off and running with an all-hands-on-deck campaign to fight repeal by making congressional Republicans’ phones ring off the hook, confronting them with their constituents’ searing personal stories, and ensuring that they’re met with a firestorm of protest everywhere they go—from social media to the streets. If we beat repeal, we can stop the Trump agenda in its tracks and save health care for tens of millions of Americans.
Just last week, the GOP seemed organized and ready to act quickly. Their original plan was to repeal Obamacare on January 20—and then come up with a replacement years later.
But that plan’s out the window now. At least seven Republicans have said that they want to wait until a replacement is ready before they’ll vote to repeal, and a growing chorus of Republicans want to wait until March to take the critical repeal vote.
And now, Donald Trump has turned cracks in the Republican stance into a full-blown rupture. He recently contradicted most of his party, saying that Obamacare repeal and replace should happen “essentially, simultaneously” and “probably some time next week”. This is impossible, however, because Trump would need eight Democratic senators to vote with him on an Obamacare replacement.
Repealing Obamacare was supposed to be a cakewalk for the GOP. So why are they suddenly in hot water? Because repealing Obamacare would be a political disaster.
Four in five Americans do not want to repeal Obamacare without a replacement. And it’s no wonder. Repeal would:
- Take away insurance from 30 million people;
- Cost 3 million jobs
- Blow a $350 billion hole in the deficit; and
- Throw the lives of millions of Americans into chaos.
Republicans can’t agree on a replacement … and for good reason. Americans want a more liberal system—with better coverage for more people and lower costs for patients. One poll shows that a majority of Americans actually want the single-payer option—which MoveOn has been seeking for years.10
But all the plans that Republicans have floated are far stingier than Obamacare and would take away health care coverage from millions of Americans. That’s why none of the plans have come close to even getting broad Republican support. When people take a look, they see that all of the GOP plans are political stinkers. (And remember: Republicans would need at least eight Democratic senators’ votes to pass a replacement … Not going to happen.)
In other words, the GOP has painted itself into a corner. They promised their most partisan supporters that they would repeal Obamacare, but they’ve got no way to replace it—and repealing without a replacement would backfire completely.
Remember what happened last November? Donald Trump won, even though his campaign was a disaster. What’s the lesson? Just because Republicans are in turmoil doesn’t mean that they’re definitely going to lose. But if enough of us get involved, they might.
With floods of phone calls (17,000 just last week), in-state protests (82 last month, and many more in the works), and a slew of social media campaigns, we’re making sure that Republicans know how unpopular their plans are.
Individual stories are at the heart of MoveOn’s campaign—told through videos, at speak-out events, and during visits to politicians’ offices.
This weekend, MoveOn members will gather at more than 500 community organizing meetings at which defending health care will be a key point on the agenda. We will also participate in dozens of rallies led by Democratic members of Congress fighting to defend health care. In two weeks, we’ll be back at Senate offices across the country to continue to hammer our message.
And we’re working closely with Senate and House Democrats to keep them united in opposition.
It’s working. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told thousands of MoveOn members on a conference, which also included Senator Elizabeth Warren, this past Monday night, “We ain’t resting until the move to repeal the ACA has a dagger through its heart.”12
This is a strange sort of fight we’re in. If we succeed, there’s not likely to be a decisive moment when we win a floor vote. Instead, victory means keeping our side united and theirs divided—keeping Republicans busy negotiating a health care bill that never quite seems to click, battling for months as Trump’s momentum on every other issue drains away. Every day that they don’t repeal Obamacare is a day when we’ve won.
Bernie Sanders is calling this fight “our first stand.”13
He’s right. It’s the Republicans’ first big legislative test, and if we draw the line here, we slow them down on absolutely everything else. But it’s more than that.
By taking on this fight, we show our fellow Americans that—no matter their race, or religion, or even politics—we believe that their lives have value, and that health care is a right. We show what we stand for. And we show—no matter who’s in office—the kind of nation that we want to be.