The Post editorial: Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner voted in favor of two bad bills to repeal Obamacare.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, RColo., voted in favor of two bad bills to repeal Obamacare. We hoped he would show more leadership.
Thankfully, the Better Care Reconciliation Act — the amended Senate version of repealing and replacing Obamacare — failed on Tuesday night. Fifty-seven senators had the good sense to vote against what would have amounted to a rolling back of hefty Obamacare taxes while slashing funding for Medicaid without offering guidance to states on how to handle the cuts.
And then, on Wednesday, a plan to repeal Obamacare with a twoyear delay for Republicans to provide a replacement failed, with 55 senators voting “no.” Gardner voted “yes.”
Such a vote is reckless indeed, as who can trust that our gridlockprone Congress is up to the task of replacing Obamacare with reasonable reform? These votes lead us to question Gardner’s ability to judge what is best for Colorado over what is best for his primary election prospects.
It’s true these bills would have failed with or without Gardner’s support, but neither met our test for the type of meaningful, measured reform of Obamacare we hoped to see from Republicans this year.
Instead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is presenting a series of confusing amendments that seem designed to give the GOP political cover without fixing America’s health insurance system.
The BCRA was a bad bill, one that was far less about repealing unpopular provisions like the individual mandate than it was about cutting traditional Medicaid spending (reform that is needed but doesn’t really have anything to do with Obamacare).
Gardner was one of 43 Republicans expressing support for the BCRA in a vote Tuesday. Technically the vote was a procedural one to allow the BCRA to pass under reconciliation with just 51 votes because the amended version hadn’t yet been scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
We were encouraged by Gardner’s early opposition to proposed cuts to Medicaid.
Gardner had been working on amendments that, if passed, would have made the BCRA less bad. Proposals included helping low income individuals move to the private market with billions in federal subsidies and carving out vulnerable populations for increased Medicaid funding.
But those amendments were in question, and clinging to hope for their passage strikes us as reckless again, given estimates that tens of millions of Americans would lose coverage.
Gardner wasn’t alone in casting such a questionable vote on the BCRA. Sen. John McCain, who moments before had made an inspiring speech against the BCRA — calling it a “shell of a bill” and pledging to vote against it — also voted to move it forward. McCain later voted against repeal with delayed replacement.
But McCain was right about one thing.
“The Obama administration and congressional Democrats shouldn’t have forced through Congress without any opposition support a social and economic change as massive as Obamacare. And we shouldn’t do the same with ours,” McCain said in a speech against partisanship. “Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act. If this process ends in failure, which seems likely, then let’s return to regular order.”
Regular order would involve crafting a bipartisan bill that could win 60 votes, amending and changing it through committee markups and then voting on the floor to save Americans from the failings of Obamacare.
The members of The Denver Post’s editorial board are William Dean Singleton, chairman; Mac Tully, CEO and publisher; Chuck Plunkett, editor of the editorial pages; Megan Schrader, editorial writer; and Cohen Peart, opinion editor.