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By Sen. Rand Paul

Just when you think Republicans might move away from the bad ideas that are Obamacare-lite, stories are cropping up about the GOP looking at resurrecting or even expanding Obamacare’s Cadillac tax (In fact, it is already a part of Obamacare that is kept in the Paul Ryan plan).

Why? Primarily because it brings in revenue that the GOP wants to use to keep another Obamacare retread—federal subsidies for health insurance.

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Proponents of taxing what they consider “excessive” insurance somehow believe they know better than you do how much insurance you need. Curiously, these same people would likely not be so presumptuous as to assert that consumers are spending too much on iPads, but when it comes to healthcare, all respect for consumer choice or free markets seems to evaporate.

I remember in the good old days when Republicans were not in favor of new taxes or new subsidies or dictates on how much insurance a person should buy. But that was a long time ago when the Tea Party stoked the nation’s consciousness, and the GOP rose to capture all three branches of government.

Now, though, we are told, “we must govern.”  To many Republicans, that somehow means we should abandon precisely the philosophy that brought us into power. Curious and disappointing it is to so quickly forget what was promised the voter.

I ran at the height of the rising Tea Party movement, and I promised to vote to repeal Obamacare. I didn’t promise to replace it with slightly less Obamacare. I promised to repeal it. Scolds from the House now say we ran on the Ryan plan to replace Obamacare with slightly less Obamacare. Not true!

I really think the voters believe we ran on repealing Obamacare. I pledged to replace Obamacare with the freedom to buy inexpensive insurance, to save tax free to help purchase healthcare, and to be free to join a group to get discounted health insurance. I most assuredly did not run on replacing Obamacare with Obamacare-lite.

Is the current proposal Obamacare-lite? Well, you decide.

How much Obamacare does the House bill keep? Well, if you add up the subsidies of Obamacare over a six-year period (2020-2026), you spend $624 billion. If you add up the Republican plan’s subsidies over the same period, you spend $588 billion. So, the GOP plan keeps over ninety percent of the Obamacare subsidies.

No wonder many conservatives are disappointed.

What happened to those bold promises to take Obamacare and rip it out, root and branch? I’m not exactly sure what happened to our nerve, but I think it can be best described as many Republicans having insufficient confidence in the miracle of the marketplace, in the miracle that is capitalism, in the miracle that made America great.

Republicans, like Democrats, allow the muck of Washington’s status quo to cloud their judgment. Republicans get trapped into believing the federal government must “fix” the insurance markets instead of championing the proposition that free minds and free markets are the surest path to supplying the most goods to the most people.

The history of government intervention in the marketplace, whether it be price controls or subsidies, is a history of failure and unintended consequences and, yes, even famine.

We are entering into a period of famine in health insurance. Bloomberg reports that one-third of our counties only have one insurance choice in the individual market. These Obamacare-spawned monopolies have allowed prices to soar.

Instead of trying to fix Obamacare, which for all practical purposes is beyond fixing, maybe we should try legalizing exit ramps for people to escape the profoundly dysfunctional Obamacare individual markets.

That’s exactly what association buying plans do. We need to immediately legalize nationwide buying groups to allow people to pool together to get cheaper insurance and better terms. Buying groups would make the consumer king again and put the big insurance companies on notice that the taxpayer will no longer be their patsy.

We should immediately dispel any idea of subsidizing the purchase of insurance. Not one penny of taxpayer dollars should go to insurance companies. These same companies earn $15 billion a year in profit. Why, in heaven’s name, would we subsidize them?

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I’ve spoken to President Trump about legalizing nationwide buying groups. Our legal counsel believes that current law allows the Secretary of Labor to do this without new laws.

So, instead of letting the unelected swamp at CBO skewer any legislation to alter Obamacare, President Trump could simply, on his own, legalize buying groups that have the potential to offer inexpensive insurance to the 20 million individuals that Obamacare failed to insure.

I imagine President Trump surrounded by already existing associations, such as the Chamber, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the American Farm Bureau, announcing that he is legalizing nationwide buying groups—now that’s a concept ALL Republicans could rally around.

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