Graham, Cassidy Unveil Revised Obamacare Bill

Washington — This morning, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) unveiled a 140-page bill to fundamentally restructure Obamacare.  The Heritage Foundation said a previous version of Graham-Cassidy incorporated a number of important provisions but ultimately “falls short of fully repealing Obamacare and replacing” the law, in part because “it doesn’t repeal all of Obamacare’s taxes” and “takes policy in the wrong direction by spending the money from the Obamacare taxes on a new welfare block-grant program to states.” Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A. Needham:

“Heritage Action looks forward to reviewing the newly released text and appreciates the senators’ efforts to keep the debate over Obamacare’s future front and center. Based on what we know right now, Graham-Cassidy would make some improvements over the status quo but it would not actually deliver on the Republicans’ seven-year campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.  

“As we have said from the beginning, the key question is whether any proposal actually addresses Obamacare’s regulatory architecture. Any reforms that maintain the law’s onerous federal regulations will ensure networks continue to narrow, premiums continue to rise, and choice continues to decline.”

Ending DACA Constitutional and Appropriate

Washington — This morning, the Trump administration announced it would end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on March 5, 2018. As The Heritage Foundation wrote at the time, “implementing broad swathes of that proposed [DREAM] act by fiat … is wrong and sets a dangerous precedent.”  Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A. Needham:

“The Trump administration deserves credit for beginning the process of slowly unraveling the unlawful DACA program put in place by the previous administration. It should serve as a reminder for Republicans and Democrats alike that executive action can be reversed by executive action. Moving forward, it is imperative the executive and legislative branches work together to build a national consensus for an immigration policy that makes sense for 320 million Americans, not only a sympathetic group put into an untenable situation because former President Obama illegally bypassed Congress.”

Prior to the official announcement, The Heritage Foundation wrote that “Enforcing our immigration laws encourages people to come to the U.S. legally and discourages illegal immigration. … DACA is the pinnacle of non-enforcement; not only does it protect illegal immigrants from deportation, it provides benefits that by law are reserved for American citizens and legal immigrants.”

Minor Concerns with Initial Harvey Request

Washington – According to reports, the Trump administration will submit a $5.9 billion emergency funding request to Congress potentially as soon as Friday.  As The Heritage Foundation explained this week, emergency spending must meet five criteria: necessary, sudden, urgent, unforeseen, and not permanent. Heritage Action released the following statement from vice president Dan Holler:

“Heritage Action is eager to review the full proposal, but initial reports are largely encouraging as FEMA’s immediate response is prioritized. It is imperative the administration and lawmakers avoid a Sandy-style package riddled with non-emergency spending. Any funds that fall outside the strict definition of ‘emergency spending’ should, such as the reported inclusion of small business loans, be offset.”

Justin Bogie, The Heritage Foundation’s senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs, added:

“The federal relief offered by the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program (DLP) creates a ‘moral hazard’ by discouraging businesses and individuals from purchasing insurance to cover the risks of natural disasters. Unlike the National Flood Insurance Program, nobody bought into the DLP. Rather, it serves as a government subsidy where the SBA alone makes decisions about who qualifies for and receives benefits. In many cases the loans fail to offer a long-term solution and property owners and taxpayers alike would be better served by relying on the private insurance market.”

Conservatives Should Oppose Irresponsible Debt Ceiling Hike

Washington — According to reports, congressional leaders are planning to raise the nation’s debt ceiling without attaching additional reforms to address the structural nature of America’s annual deficit. Heritage Action released the following statement from vice president Dan Holler:

“Our nation’s structural deficit is driven by historically irresponsible levels of federal spending. Any increase in our nation’s debt ceiling should be paired with serious spending reforms that begin reducing federal spending in real, meaningful ways. Congress cannot simply kick the can down the road to the next generation; instead they should work with the administration to raise the debt ceiling in a responsible way that addresses our nation’s serious fiscal challenges.”

House Flood Bill Floating Off Course

Washington — Earlier this year, the House Financial Services Committee released a draft five-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). When the draft was released, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, urged stakeholders to provide “input into protecting the program integrity of the NFIP” that is already $25 billion in debt. The Heritage Foundation explained that while some of the provisions were “particularly flawed” and other “unfeasible,” the proposal as a whole “would facilitate the availability of private flood insurance.” Since Duffy’s 21st Century Flood Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2874) passed out of committee in June, it has been subject to intense industry lobbying, particularly by the Realtors and Home Builders, to further undermine important reforms. Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A. Needham:

“One of the reasons Americans are so thoroughly frustrated with Washington is the role special interests play in the legislative process. While Chairman Duffy deserves credit for building consensus around significant reforms to a debt-ridden and dysfunctional flood insurance program, he cannot allow the bill to continue floating off course. He cannot do it alone, though. House Republican leadership should serve as a bulkhead against bad policy emerging in the Senate and special interests trying to undermine these commonsense conservative reforms to promote competition.”

The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow in regulatory policy Diane Katz explains “The government’s monopoly on insurance coverage also politicizes the process of risk mapping, which now involves numerous special interests and various stakeholders.” The solution, she writes: “is to eliminate the subsidies and other giveaways that secure the government’s flood insurance monopoly.”