Dean Heller’s Kabuki Dance Over Obamacare ‘Repeal Lite’ Bills

kabuki dance Shutterstock/Kobby Dagan

Danny Tarkanian Contributor
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Why do so many people support “draining the swamp” as a political idea? One reason is the shameful and shameless practice of Washington D.C. “spin doctors” misleading the public into thinking black is white, up is down and in is out.

And that is especially true of Nevada U.S. Sen Dean Heller, universally considered the most vulnerable Republican up for re-election in 2018. His communications operation isn’t a “No Spin Zone.” It’s an “All Spin Zone.” And he’s gotten away with it for almost 30 years in public office now.

No more. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” And a growing number of Nevada conservatives have caught on to DC Dean’s act.

The latest example is the disinformation campaign being waged by his spin doctors trying to fool people into believing he voted to repeal Obamacare when, in fact, he did the exact opposite. The truth is Heller’s position last June was, “If you like your Obamacare, you can keep it.”

A Reader’s Digest version of DC Dean’s flip-floppery on Obamacare: While in the House he voted against it. On the campaign trail for re-election to the Senate in 2012, he said he supported repeal. In 2015 he voted for repeal (Obama vetoed the bill, as expected).

In 2016, Donald Trump ran on a platform calling for Obamacare repeal. Heller opposed Trump, saying at one point, “Let’s be very, very clear. I do not support Trump.” Trump won anyway – though he lost Nevada thanks in large part to Heller’s #NeverTrump position.

Immediately after his inauguration, Trump pushed the House to pass an Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill. It did. And sent it over to the Senate.

But then, with only a razor-thin GOP majority, Heller did a big press conference on June 23 and declared, “I will not support it.” The reason he gave was that it reversed Nevada’s fiscally irresponsible expansion of Medicaid. That essentially killed the repeal-and-replace bill; a shameful betrayal of his supporters in Nevada.

So the Senate brought up a clean bill to simply repeal Obamacare first and figure out what to replace it with later. Heller voted against this bill even though it was identical to the repeal bill he had already voted for in 2015. In short, Heller was for repealing Obamacare before he was against it.

As Ronald Reagan once said, “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.” So a pro-Trump organization, America First Policies, launched a 30-second radio and television ad campaign “savaging Heller” for his betrayal.

“[N]ow with strong leadership [in the White House] and a chance to repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered care that protects American families,” the ads warned, “Sen. Dean Heller is saying ‘No.’ Call Sen. Heller, tell him America needs him to keep his promise: Vote ‘yes’ to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

And lo and behold, Heller suddenly changed his tune yet again. He decided in late July to support a new “skinny” bill that repealed some of Obamacare but not all of it. Most importantly, it kept the Medicaid expansion. Call it “Repeal Lite.”

The “skinny” bill failed because conservative Republicans objected to the fact that it didn’t actually repeal Obamacare. So Heller tried yet another half-measure in September that that would have protected Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion but would have paid for it through “block grants” to the states.

Again, this Repeal Lite bill didn’t actually repeal Obamacare and it, too, failed.

But here’s how the deception game works in The Swamp for professional politicians who talk out of both sides of their mouth. Heller’s spin doctors are now claiming…

“(It’s a) lie that Heller didn’t vote to repeal the mandate earlier this summer. Heller voted for the bill President Trump supported this summer that would have repealed and replaced Obamacare. When that bill ultimately failed, Heller co-authored another bill that the President endorsed that also repealed the individual mandate.”

Notice the weasely parsing of words. They are completely covering up the fact that Heller opposed the initial full repeal bills and only after getting stung by the radio and TV ads did he support the two Repeal Lite bills. So he’s trying to have it both ways.

The fact is had he supported full repeal initially, as he promised to do on the campaign trail, the Repeal Lite bills would never have seen the light of day.

This is what passes for truth-telling in The Swamp. It’s dishonest. It’s a lie by omission. But it’s par for the course for DC Dean Heller. And in June Nevada Republicans, who won’t be fooled again, will repeal and replace HIM.

Danny Tarkanian is a candidate for U.S. Senate in Nevada in 2018. He is facing incumbent U.S. Senator Dean Heller in the Republican primary.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.