The most important question about Obamacare Light was whether the Freedom Caucus had the backbone to oppose another government solution for another government-created problem. It did.
My autopsy starts on Sunday night, March 4, 2007. When 60 Minutes aired [David Walker’s “Wake-Up Call,”] Congressman Paul Ryan must have been sleeping. At that time, Walker was the nation’s top accountant. He told CBS’ Steve Kroft, “I would argue that the most serious threat to the United States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan but our own fiscal irresponsibility.”
Kroft introduced that night’s featured interview by saying, “It’s been called the ‘dirty little secret everyone in Washington knows’—a set of financial truths so inconvenient that most elected officials don’t even want to talk about them, which is exactly why David Walker does.”
At the time of this interview, our national debt was $8.9 trillion. Ryan had been in the House of Representatives eight years. Walker was pretty upset by Bush’s financial leadership, or lack of it. “The prescription drug bill (Bush’s Medicare expansion) was probably the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s,” said Walker. Congressman Ryan joined 207 Republicans in voting for this bill. Nineteen Republicans voted against it. The “Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003” passed by a margin of one!
Although Walker railed against government spending, the shocking exchange came between Kroft and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND). Conrad acknowledged most people in Washington—both Republicans and Democrats—knew “we are on a course that doesn’t add up.”
Kroft asked, “Why doesn’t somebody do something about it?”
“Because it’s always easier not to. ‘Cause it’s always easier to defer, to kick the can down the road to avoid making choices. You know, you get in trouble in politics when you make choices,” said Senator Conrad.
Maybe Paul Ryan did hear that part. Congressman Ryan chaired the House Budget Committee from January 3, 2011 to January 3, 2015. He then chaired the House Ways and Means Committee for less than a year, before becoming the 54th Speaker of the House. Ryan swims in the swamp; the one Trump wants to drain.
The national debt was $5.7 trillion when Ryan entered office in 1999. Am I going to blame everything on Speaker Paul Ryan? No, he simply represents the best of the GOP progressive establishment. To truly understand what went wrong with the Obamacare rewrite, we need to understand the swamp dwellers who crafted the “Light” version.
Ryan was into his fifth congressional year when Walker first made news. In 2004, the Comptroller General of the United States, David Walker, refused to sign off on the government’s books. He did not believe the numbers were reliable. At that time, our national debt was $7.8 trillion.
Commenting on what Walker found, [The Heritage Foundation wrote], “…5 out of 23 federal agencies failed to get a clean audit report, and ten out of 23 agencies had to correct significant errors in last year’s report. The government is routinely unable to account for all the money that it spends: Last year, various agencies spent $24 billion with no record of where the money went, while this year, agencies reported $3 billion more in expenses than actually went out the door. The Treasury Department was forced to ‘plug’ the difference on the financial statement. In addition, certain information required by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles—the hallmark standard for financial reporting—was not even included in this report.
“These shortcomings and others are so pervasive that Walker cautions readers that the information contained in the financial report may not be reliable—yet the President, Congress, and government managers are making decisions based on it.”
(In case you think these types of problems have been resolved: [Trillions Go Missing From the Military: Pentagon Can’t Account for $6.5T in Taxpayer Cash,] August 18, 2016.)
We now know, as Ryan advanced through the ranks of Congress, his progress was the reward for voting in step with the GOP. Being a committee chairman meant Ryan had to reach a GOP fundraising target in order to retain his powerful chair . From 2011 through 2015, it also meant Ryan had to vote in sync with House Speaker Boehner . Having a prestigious committee chair put Ryan in the deep part of the swamp. His first commitment was to the GOP, not his district’s voters. The promise of unlimited GOP campaign funds meant he would stay in office no matter what his constituents thought.
David Walker has been a relentless voice Paul Ryan has seemingly ignored. Two months before Obamacare was signed into law, in 2011, [Walker told NPR,] “…our health care house is already mortgaged for more than its worth, and all we’re doing is adding a new wing onto it. So it doesn’t give me confidence. And my question is when are we going to start dealing with the real problems with health care costs that threaten to bankrupt the country and to make sure that we can deliver on the promises that we make?”
So when the retiring Speaker handed Ryan the keys to Congress, did Paul Ryan make sweeping changes to rein back government spending? Did he have pent-up frustrations about a growing government and new ideas he was now ready to implement—finally, after 16 years—to save our country from bankruptcy; would he face Washington’s “dirty little secret?” Would he be a bold, courageous leader?
In 2016, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) gave Ryan an F- for his first budget . Breitbart announced it as: [“Paul Ryan Betrays America: $1.1 Trillion, 2,000-Plus Page Omnibus Bill Funds “Fundamental Transformation Of America.’]
It wasn’t just Massie who had it with Ryan’s establishment. The week before the election, retiring Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) said his biggest surprise in Washington: no sense of urgency to deal with finances. Stutzman said, “We are not at a crossroads. We are past that. We are down the hill. We have to turn around and march back up to reclaim the hill!”
Enter: President Trump. If Trump was back at The Apprentice, and Paul Ryan was one of the contestants, do you really think Trump would pick Ryan to save our country’s health care system? What really are his qualifications for fixing a $3 trillion sector of our economy? [2b]
Trump promised he would drain the swamp. I recognize we are not a monarchy—which is a good thing—Ryan is in this role due to some Wisconsin voters. But President Trump hitched his wagon to a swamp dweller, someone whose bias is for a bigger government. On the eve of the big vote, Representative Massie said his vote switched from “No,” to “Hell No!” [Rep. Thomas Massie On AHCA: ‘I Think It’s Worse Than Obamacare.’] Massie told MSNBC, “This is par for the course…Everything is slapped, dashed, last-minute…We need some better planners here, frankly. We’re trying to re-architect 1/6th of our economy here in four hours and then vote on it today. We need to kill this thing. It’s ridiculous!”
Speaker Ryan doesn’t think “free markets.” Most elected federal Republicans are not “free market cheerleaders.” They think a bigger government is what’s needed. Through the decades, as the ruling party has changed colors, from red to blue, and then back to red, only to be followed by blue; the government has continued to grow—nonstop! Our $20 trillion in debt is the fault of both Republicans and Democrats. Both parties are big spenders. [Debts of our Presidents.]
Obamacare Light was simply more of the same. It was the same monotonous song, now sung by a different choir. Former Reagan Budget Director, David Stockman, wrote, “…the passage of Obamacare Lite would mean the triumph of a runaway Welfare State in aging and job-deficient America. It would eventually result in fiscal catastrophe and the certainty of tax increases—not cuts—as far as the eye can see.
“Needless to say, the Speaker’s Obamacare Lite plan does not even address the runaway costs drivers of the medical delivery system and merely fiddles with the entitlements along the edges.” [Stockman On Thursday’s Defining Moment: Defeat Obamacare Lite Or Be Buried By The Welfare State.]
The death of Obamacare Light is a victory for the Trump revolution (if there is to be one). President Trump needs to learn from this. He needs to recognize who is in the swamp and who is on solid ground . Obamacare Light brought to the surface those who believe a government solution is better than a free market solution. We’ve been doing that for about 100 years . Obamacare Light brought to the surface those who want to ignore Washington’s dirty little secret. It’s time we shatter the secret. It’s time to try something different. It’s time we free health care from the government’s bondage.
“Dollar” Bill is a real guy, with real knowledge on our nation’s financial calamity, and real solutions for what must be done to dig ourselves out of the hole we are in. Due to his career, Bill must remain “disguised” to protect his position. “Bill” loves America, sees the impending cliff we are all headed towards, and hopes that by sharing his inside knowledge of the failed monetary policy in our nation, that a fiscal “nuclear” event can be minimized.