Cory Gardner needs to join health care repeal protest.
Last week Americans were treated to another miserable performance by Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump in their determined but hopelessly misguided attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. With significant reason to reform the Obama legacy, which is plagued by rising health care costs, the party can’t seem to come up with a plan that makes sense.
Look, they had plenty of opportunity. After seven years of complaining and complaining and complaining about how the Democrats passed the bill without Republican buy-in, they trusted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to craft — in secret — a measure meant to create unity and clarity. Or at least enough of it to clear the chamber.
The grand plan failed spectacularly, and for at least two significant reasons. First, Americans saw through the hypocrisy of the party’s strategy to bring a vote with little to zero time devoted to debate. Second, after the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the proposed changes, enough Republicans bolted to scuttle the planned pre-recess vote. The CBO found McConnell’s various workarounds amounted to a massive redistribution of wealth proposed by Republicans that would cost 22 million people access to health care by 2026.
Indeed, McConnell’s approach and his bill are so appallingly bad as to not just invite, but warrant protest.
Here in Colorado, the spectacle has placed Sen. Cory Gardner in a most damning spotlight. It’s time for him to exercise his leadership within the party — Gardner runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee — and join the bipartisan rejection of the McConnell effort.
Gardner’s silence on what he’d like to see changed in the bill is deafening in a state where a shockingly high percent of voters support a more liberal approach to health care.
Our first-term Republican senator needs to think long and hard about who he represents and what he stands for.
He needs to spend his break telling constituents how he’d like to fix health care and why he’s the right man for the job in D.C. Because now there is clear reason for doubt. While he’s shown himself too skilled at dodging town hall meetings of constituents, Gardner can’t escape the public record. Gardner was one of the select members of a working group meant to inform McConnell’s bill.
Gardner was right in late June to demand more transparency in McConnell’s effort. He was right also to ask his party to slow down and not rush the vote. We’re pleased he’s working with medical providers and experts in Colorado.
But it’s time the senator got on board with a forceful message to seek and find reasonable and responsible middle ground. Heath insurance coverage is too complex to get wrong. The legislative system of checks and balances ought to be followed.
Americans are becoming overwrought. Protesters in Gardner’s Denver office last week started camping overnight in hopes of gaining an audience and on Saturday we addressed our concerns with how poorly that was handled by Gardner.
Nothing about the path he is on will be easy, but if Gardner wants to prove his mettle as a leader, this is his chance.
He ought to take it.