Keith Ellison: GOP Is Pushing “Tax Cut Wrapped in Veneer of a Healthcare Bill” Under Extreme Secrecy
President Trump and top Republican lawmakers are continuing their push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act under extreme secrecy, and some senators say they have no idea what the new version of Trumpcare will include. It is “essentially a tax cut wrapped in the veneer of a healthcare bill,” argues our guest, Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democratic congressmember and co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus. He’s the first Muslim member of Congress. “Call your senator. Get involved, because this thing is probably going to go quick once it starts.”
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to switch gears and ask you about what’s happening with the healthcare bill. This week, President Trump and top Republican lawmakers—
REP. KEITH ELLISON: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —continued their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Multiple past Republican efforts to craft and pass their own healthcare law have failed. And I was just looking at ThinkProgress. It says no one seems to know what’s going on. “At a Thursday hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin [D-IL] asked Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, ‘Have you or anyone in your department seen what the Senate Republicans are working on in terms of their version of Trumpcare?'” What is the Senate doing right now? What we know is Trump discussed his plan with a lunch with 13 Republican senators.
REP. KEITH ELLISON: Well, anybody who believes that the United States government has a responsibility to help Americans get healthcare better ramp up their activity, because the—I believe what’s going to happen is that the Senate may well likely get a bill that is just as ugly as the House bill, and that what they’ll do is they’ll skip regular order. They won’t have hearings. They won’t give the country a chance to mobilize and digest. They probably won’t even wait for a Congressional Budget Office score. They’ll just bring it straight to the floor and pass it as quickly as they can. And so—and so, that’s probably—I think that’s why this extreme secrecy thing is the path that Mitch McConnell is following. They are very deliberately keeping a hush on this, because they want to catch us by surprise. But I believe in the American people, and I don’t think we’re going to let that happen. So I’d say, call your senator. Call—you know, get involved, because this thing is probably going to go quick once it starts.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Ellison, were you surprised when you heard that President Trump called the House version “mean,” and they had to fix it, and what that could possibly mean?
REP. KEITH ELLISON: You know, nothing that Trump does surprises me. I mean, here’s the reality of Donald Trump. He watches the polls. He watches television. He’s a—and he serves them what he thinks they want to have, right? So, it wouldn’t—he would throw his Republican allies under the bus in a hot second if he thought it would serve him. So, no, I’m not surprised about that.
But the real thing is, he would sign that bill, right? He didn’t call it mean as it was going through. And just so people watching know, the Republican bill is not actually a healthcare bill. It is essentially a tax cut wrapped in the veneer of a healthcare bill. It would literally redistribute millions of dollars by cutting Medicaid to the wealthiest Americans and leave about 23 million people without healthcare coverage. So, it is a—it is, of course, mean. We knew that from before. Those of us who were calling attention to the ugliness of this bill could have used the support of the president, but we didn’t get it when we needed it.