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Yes is harder than no

By Mike Ruffin Unless you’ve been on a vacation to the moon (and if you have, I wish you’d taken me with you), you are aware that on March 24, the Republican leadership of the United States House of Representatives pulled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) from consideration before it could be voted on. They did so because they didn’t have the votes to pass it. That was the case even though Republicans outnumber Democrats in the House 237-193 (that adds up to less than 435 because there are five vacant seats). So even though every Democrat was expected to vote against the bill, it would have passed easily had all the Republicans been willing to vote for it. Had it passed, and had the Senate approved something akin to it, President Trump would have signed it. What happened? Well, every Republican wasn’t willing to vote for it. Some moderate Republicans felt it went too far. Some of the most conservative ones felt it didn’t go far enough. As a result, it ended up going nowhere. This is a bitter pill for Republicans to swallow, because they’ve been running on a platform of ‘repeal and replace Obamacare’ ever since the then Democrat-controlled House and Senate passed, and President Obama signed, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. Now, to be fair, Republicans in Congress had to this point consistently (and often) voted to do away with Obamacare. By most counts, Republicans passed more than 50 bills designed to repeal or alter the ACA. But they did so knowing full well that President Obama would veto the bills and that they didn’t have the votes to override his veto. I guess they made their point. But they accomplished nothing. The proposed new healthcare law gave Republicans their first real opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare. And they didn’t do it. Why? They didn’t do it because it’s harder to say ‘Yes’ than it is to say ‘No,’ because it’s harder to create momentum than it is to impede it, because it’s harder to do something than it is to do nothing, and because it’s harder to be constructive than it is to be obstructionist. In the interest of full disclosure, and because I don’t want you to think I’m saying something I’m not saying, I should tell you I’m glad they didn’t say ‘Yes.’ The ACA has many problems that need to be addressed, but the AHCA, so far as I can tell, added nothing to the situation (besides an extra letter in the acronym). In a word, I think the proposed bill was horrid. There is some talk now of a bipartisan effort to improve the ACA. That’s what I hope happens. That’s what needs to happen. I think we should encourage our representatives to sit down together and work to come up with the best possible enhancements to healthcare. I’m one of those ‘healthcare is a right’ people, so I favor a system that provides real access to real healthcare to everybody. Surely there are enough senators and congresspersons that care about the health of the American people to make that happen. Again, it will take bipartisan effort. But bipartisan effort is what should always be happening. Democrats and Republicans need to remember that they are Americans first. They should also remember that they should think about and work for what’s best for all the people of their state, district and nation, not just for the members of their party or for those who voted for them. It’s much harder to work together to bring about positive change that it is to lob criticisms at each other from your respective trenches. But if our leaders are going to lead, that’s what they’re going to have to do. Mike Ruffin is a Barnesville native and graduate of Lamar County High School. He and his wife Debra live on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville. He is the Connections Curriculum Editor with Smyth & Helwys Publishing in Macon and Interim Pastor of The Rock Baptist Church. His latest book, Luke: Parables for the Journey, is available at and online booksellers.

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