Hot Sheet

Doug Lamborn: Republican tax legislation ‘puts a stake through the heart of Obamacare’

Author: Ernest Luning - December 16, 2017 - Updated: December 16, 2017

In this file photo, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn speaks at a June 2014 debate in Colorado Springs. (File photo by Julia Moss, The Gazette)In this file photo, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn speaks at a June 2014 debate in Colorado Springs. (File photo by Julia Moss, The Gazette)

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn cheered word Friday that congressional Republicans had secured enough votes to pass a massive overhaul of the nation’s tax laws that President Donald Trump has said he hopes to sign before the end of the year but that Democrats say favors corporations and the wealthy without much helping everyone else.

“The reconciled version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a historic reform of America’s tax code,” Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, said in a statement. “Congress listened to the American people and then stripped the tax code down to the bare bones and rebuilt it. Republican leadership delivered on our promise to cut taxes and help the middle class.”

“Most importantly,” he continued, “this effort puts a stake through the heart of Obamacare, eliminating the individual mandate and giving Americans the freedom to choose government or private healthcare providers.”

A House-Senate conference committee finalized the bill Friday — the two chambers had already passed different versions — and GOP leadership announced that a few Senate holdouts had signed on, paving the way for passage next week.

Included in the final bill is the repeal of a key component of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the requirement that nearly all Americans have health insurance coverage or face a penalty. Republicans spent a big chunk of the year failing to repeal and replace Obamacare, but repealing the mandate kills perhaps the least popular element of the law.

While the provision is widely reviled by Republicans these days — as evidenced by Lamborn’s gleeful dancing on its not-yet-dug grave — the individual mandate, formulated and embraced by the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, was originally considered a conservative approach. It was a linchpin of former Gov. Mitt Romney’s health care reform initiative in Massachusetts and was the foundation of Republican legislation that had the support of Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, two current senators who later came to oppose the idea. By the time the individual mandate was a crucial part of Obama’s health care legislation, even long-time, ardent supporters like Newt Gingrich had become ferocious opponents.

Critics and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office say that without the mandate, fewer people will be insured and premiums in the individual marketplace will increase as a result. Other independent experts differ on the precise impact, according to the Associated Press, with one calling the data on potential effects “very murky.”

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.