I confess I’m not a huge talk radio listener anymore. But I further confess that I do listen to Glenn Beck sometimes because he thinks outside the box and is willing to have his mind changed — as he has on President Trump.
He and his co-host Stu Burguiere, who brings some balance and a more steady diet of careful facts to the mic, have realized that Trump has governed as a conservative and done a ton of great things.
For those readers who Beck is dead to because he did not support Trump in 2016, I only say that is short-sighted and self-defeating. We want and need all sorts of Americans who did not support Trump to flip to supporting him in 2020.
But Beck does something that Rush Limbaugh has done, too. And that is fire from the hip so broadly and carelessly that he ends up being just wrong. I know it is heresy to say Rush is wrong, but he sometimes is. This may happen most often in criticism of the Republican Party (criticism that I agree with in many areas.)
But one area that is the most common talking point, and the weakest gruel, is on the repeal of Obamacare. I hear this all the time. Republicans disdainfully cannot be trusted because they promised to repeal Obamacare, but as Beck just claimed this week for the umpteenth time: “they then did nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
This is just factually wrong.
On May 4, 2017, the House passed the American Health Care Act, which repealed most of Obamacare on a vote of 217 to 213. Only a tiny handful of Republicans voted against it. But it passed, as promised. This is not doing absolutely nothing, it is passing repeal in the House. That sent the bill to the Senate, but they wanted to write their own version of repeal and did so.
On July 25, 2017, the Senate voted to debate their version, called the American Health Care Act, on a 50-50 vote, requiring Vice President Pence to cast the tie-breaker. Well-known liberal Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against. They said all along they did not support repeal, so that was expected.
Two days later, on July 27, 2017, the Health Care Freedom Act, the ultimate Senate version that the House leadership said they had support for and President Trump had said he would sign, was up for a vote. And this is where it fell apart. Collins and Murkowski voted against, as expected, but then John McCain came out of the hospital, flip-flopped, and gave the thumbs down to reporters — a metaphorical middle finger to Trump — indicating he was going to vote against the bill. And he did so, with a smile.
The bill was defeated 49–51. One vote short.
But the reality is that the repeal of Obamacare passed the House and would have passed the Senate if McCain had not been so petty at the end. Only one Republican who ran on repealing Obamacare voted against repeal. Just one.
So when Beck and other talkers exclaim that Republicans promised to repeal Obamacare and then did “absolutely nothing,” they’re flat wrong. They are, at the least, careless. At the worst, they’re lying. This sort of careless spouting does nothing to help conservatism, Republicans or Trump.
Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.
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