In an curious exchange in traditional roles, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed Republicans on Tuesday for advancing a fiscal year 2017 budget resolution which, while designed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also contemplates more than a $9 trillion increase in the public debt over a decade, according to MNI, or fractionally less than the Obama administration added in 8 years.
In remarks given on the Senate floor, signalling the multiple levels of defense that Democrats are likely to wage to protect Obamacare, Schumer cited a letter by White House budget director Shaun Donovan. Donovan's letter notes the Senate GOP's FY 2017 budget resolution allows the public debt to rise from $14.2 trillion in 2016 to $23.7 trillion in 2026. A visibly angry Schumer then said Republicans have lectured President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats for eight years about the problems posed by rising deficits and debt.
"Be fair, be consistent," Schumer scolded Republicans and then chided them for their "180 degree reversal" by pushing a budget resolution that envisions massive deficits. "This is not being fiscally conservative," Schumer said. It was not clear if Schumer himself had become a "fiscal conservative", or was simply trying to put republicans in a bad light before their votes.
Schumer's anger is the result of a 2017 Budget Resolution introduced last week by Senate Republicans, that is being used to set the stage for moving quickly on legislation to repeal the ACA. It also includes the $9 trillion debt provision.
So far Senator Rand Paul is the only Republican senator so far to oppose on fiscal grounds the GOP's decision to use the FY 2017 budget resolution to begin the ACA repeal.
Paul said the GOP should use the FY 2017 budget resolution to cut deficits and balance the federal budget.
Last Wednesday, the Kentucky Senator gave a fiery speech on the senate floor, blasting his own party for wanting to pass a budget that would add trillions to the national debt all in the name of repealing Obamacare.
“The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Republicans won the White House. Republicans control the Senate. Republicans control the House,” Paul began. “And what will the first order of business be for the new Republican majority? To pass a budget that never balances […] To pass a budget that will add $9.7 trillion dollars of new debt over ten years,” Paul said.
Is that really what we campaigned on? Is that really what the Republican Party represents? Our first order of business will be a budget that never balances? And they tell, ‘oh, but it’s not a budget.’ If you listen they will say ‘no, no, it is a vehicle to repeal Obamacare.’
And yet I have the title in front of me. It says ‘Concurrent Resolution for the Budget of 2017.’ We have special rules that when you pass the budget, that we may be able to repeal Obamacare, and I’m all for that. But why should we vote on a budget that doesn’t represent our conservative view?
Because we’re in a hurry, we can’t be bothered, it’s just numbers. I was told again and again, ‘swallow it, take it, they’re just numbers.’
Paul vowed to oppose the budget as it is currently written. “That’s not why I ran for office!” Paul said, slamming budget papers down. “That’s not why I’m here.”
“That’s not why I spend time away from my family and from my medical practice, it’s because debt is consuming our country […] There is a time and place to debate Obamacare, and I’m willing to debate that, but this is a budget,” Paul said on Wednesday.
I will put forward a budget that freezes spending and balances the budget over a 5 year period. pic.twitter.com/nWRxeefFFz— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 4, 2017
On Monday, in an op-ed for Rare, Sen. Paul called for the repeal of Obamacare, but also for an immediate replacement.
“My fear is that if you leave part of Obamacare in place (the dictate that insurance companies must sell insurance to individuals with pre-existing conditions) then you will see an acceleration of adverse selection and ultimately mass bankruptcy of the healthcare insurance industry,” Paul wrote.
And while last night the WSJ reported that Trump had agreed with Paul to delay the repeal of Obamacare until a replacement is ready, moments ago the NYT reported that Obama wants a repeal vote sometime next week with a replacement"very shortly thereafter" adding that he would not accept a delay of more than a few weeks for the Obamacare replacement plan.