The Opposite of Freedom

TimeWatch Editorial
March 28, 2017

What is this “Freedom Caucus” that managed to kill the vote on Paul Ryan’s alternative to the Affordable Care Act? Politico website, January 26, 2015 gives us somewhat of a glimpse.

“Nine Republicans officially launched a new caucus Monday to advocate for conservative legislation in the House. Founded by some of most hard-line GOP lawmakers, the House Freedom Caucus will lobby for bills that would limit the size of the government. “The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans,” the caucus’s mission statement reads. The founding members include Republican Reps. Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Jim Jordan of Ohio, John Fleming of Louisiana, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Justin Amish of Michigan, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, Mick Mulvane of South Carolina, Ron Descants of Florida and Mark Meadows of North Carolina.”  Lauren French, (January 26, 2015), Nine Republicans launch House Freedom Caucus" POLITICO.

Consider that we are now discussing a division within the Republican Party; it is therefore not surprising that such tension does exist on one side of the isle. In fact, the New Yorker in its December 24, 2015 issue describes it best with the heading, “A House Divided.” The author of the article Ryan Lizza describes “how a radical group of Republicans pushed congress to the right.”

“On July 28th, Mark Meadows, a Republican representative from North Carolina, walked to the well of the House and filed a motion to vacate the chair. It’s an obscure parliamentary tool that allows any member of the House to trigger a vote to oust the Speaker. The only other time it had been used was in 1910, during a rebellion by forty-two Progressive Republicans, the Party radicals of the day, against their Speaker, Joseph Gurney Cannon, who was accused of running the House like a tyrant.  Meadows is one of the more active members of the House Freedom Caucus, an invitation-only group of about forty right-wing conservatives that formed at the beginning of this year. Since 2010, when the Party won back the chamber, the House has been engaged in a series of clashes over taxes and spending. Two years ago, House Republicans brought about a government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act and nearly caused the United States to default on its debt. This week, as Congress raced to meet a December 11th deadline to pass the annual legislation that funds the government, the members of the Freedom Caucus had new demands: they wanted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and restrict Syrian refugees from entering the United States, policies that, if attached to the spending bills, could face a veto from Obama and, potentially, lead to another government shutdown.” Ryan Lizza, A House Divided,” the New Yorker, December 24, 2015

Notice that this is what they had in mind back in 2015. It should therefore be no surprise that they were unhappy with any sort of compromise that would have been found in the Bill that, as far as they were concerned should simply repeal the Affordable Care Act. This group of individuals, who called themselves the Freedom Caucus, demonstrated anything but freedom for the Congress or the people of this nation; their motto has always been our way or the highway. This was the group that sought to get rid of John Boehner. It was their chairman, Mark Meadows that put forward the following resolution.

“The resolution declared that Boehner “endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent.” Boehner had “caused the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches,” and he “uses the power of the office to punish Members.” It provided details about several rules and parliamentary maneuvers that Boehner had allegedly used to control the chamber, and it ended, “Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives is hereby declared to be vacant.” Ryan Lizza, A House Divided,” the New Yorker, December 24, 2015

It should therefore not be surprising that this group held a private meeting regarding their party’s upcoming legislation concerning the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. It should be understood that the Bill introduced by Paul Ryan was awful in and of itself, but as far as the “Freedom Caucus was concerned, it was not awful enough to garner their approval. This gives a fleeting snapshot of who these people are. Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Jennifer Haberkorn published an article in POLITICO on March 26, 2017 entitled: “How a Secret Freedom Caucus Pact, brought down Obamacare Repeal.” That article gives the following detail.

On March 7, 2017, in a conference room in the Rayburn House Office Building, the group met that evening and made a secret pact. No member would commit his vote before consulting with the entire group — not even if Trump himself called to ask for an on-the-spot commitment. The idea, hatched by Freedom Caucus Vice Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), was to bind them together in negotiations and ensure the White House or House leaders could not peel them off one by one. Twenty-eight of the group's roughly three dozen members took the plunge. Three weeks later, Republican leaders, as many as 25 votes short of passage, were forced to pull their bill from the House floor.  “This is a defining moment for our nation, but it's also a defining moment for the Freedom Caucus,” said group leader Mark Meadows about a week before the doomed vote was scheduled. “I don't think there's a more critical vote for the Freedom Caucus than this." Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Jennifer Haberkorn published an article in POLITICO on March 26, 2017 entitled: “How a Secret Freedom Caucus Pact, brought down Obamacare Repeal.”

The March 26 article in POLITICO makes the point that the unpublicized pledge sowed the seeds of Friday’s collapse of the Republican Party’s seven-year campaign to replace Obamacare with its own vision of health care reform.  The question must therefore be, what did the Freedom Caucus want?

“They wanted to repeal “Title One” regulations, which encompass the most popular aspects of Obamacare, such as mandating coverage of people with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans. That was a nonstarter for the White House. Trump had campaigned on keeping those popular provisions and there was no way such a proposal could pass the House, let alone the Senate. “I don’t think [White House officials] understood the depth of our commitment to try to make the repeal of Obamacare, a repeal of Obamacare, instead of an embedding of Obamacare into the federal system, albeit a morphed form,” said caucus member Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) just hours after the White House's latest peace offer.” Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Jennifer Haberkorn published an article in POLITICO on March 26, 2017 entitled: “How a Secret Freedom Caucus Pact, brought down Obamacare Repeal.”

Perhaps we need to become aware of the misuse and abuse of the word “ Freedom” when used and applied by these dictatorial authoritarians. To them the word is used to hide their true agenda, or at the very least, to establish freedom to enforce their strict and unwavering power.

Be Warned!!

Cameron A. Bowen

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