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PRESIDENTIAL PANEL DISCUSSION (copy)

Jenni Dye, research director at One Wisconsin Now, at a presidential panel discussion. Dye recently appeared with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel conservative columnist Christian Schneider. Both criticized the recent Republican proposal to replace Obamacare. 

If nothing unites people like a common enemy, "Trumpcare" may be an effective tool for bi-partisan bonding. 

Last week, Republicans released their answer to Obamacare: legislation that would replace the health care system created under the Affordable Care Act. Since then, Republicans and Democrats alike have sharply criticized the plan.

On the local political talk show “Capital City Sunday,” host Greg Neumann invited a local Republican and Democrat to talk about the legislation. Agreement outweighed argument as the two voiced common frustrations with the plan and Trump himself.

“If you go to five different conservative websites and read about it, you’ll hear five different complaints. It's not one thing that everybody's upset about,” said Christian Schneider, a conservative columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and USA Today.

“I agree, I think there is something in this bill for almost everyone to hate,” said Jenni Dye, research director at liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now. “Whether you’re a consumer of healthcare, or you’re a doctor, a nurse or a hospital, it seems like everybody is lining up in opposition.”

As a conservative, Schneider took issue with the fact that the legislation doesn’t live up to Republican campaign promises to overhaul Obamacare.

“In presidential debates, you’d have candidates say, ‘We’re going to strike every period from Obamacare and replace it with something that could actually work,’” Schneider said. “This is kind of more of a Obamacare repair rather than a repeal.”

Republicans have been talking about injecting market competition into the system to bring down premiums for everyone, Schneider said. He was also displeased that employees are still required to cover employees, rather than a portable insurance option that can be taken from job to job.

Schneider also criticized Republicans for not making use of the seven years since the Affordable Care Act was implemented to plan for a better program.

Dye agreed. While she admitted that the initial implementation of Obamacare called for changes, she called out Republicans for wasting time with ineffectual repeal plans instead of working with Democrats to improve the program.

“We could have made some of those changes,” she said. “Instead, we’ve had Republicans simply spend their time talking about repeal, voting to repeal and now when they are in power we don’t get a repeal of Obamacare, and we don’t really have a plan to replace.”

Instead, she said, the new plan is essentially a tax cut.

“A tax cut may be great if it puts more money in your pocket, it sounds like something that people would want, but in this plan the tax plan is geared toward high-income individuals and the health industry corporations,” she said. “You can’t cure your cancer with a tax cut.”

Schneider also expressed concern that the tax credit would benefit individuals with higher incomes.

“When you have people like me concerned about things like that, then it’s probably something you need to take a look at,” he said.

If the plan puts a cap on Medicaid, it could also limit access to services for seniors, those with disabilities and those struggling with mental health, Dye said.

There was also a consensus that Trump was guided not by principles in supporting this plan, but politics.

“This really is a document without a governing philosophy,” Schneider said. “It’s almost like, how much of Obamacare can we keep and still get it passed?’”

“Whether we’re talking about the details of putting together a proposal for healthcare that actually works for Americans or we’re talking about any other issues, what we see is someone who is unable to focus and is interested in creating the next controversy to get him off of his last controversy,” Dye said.

In conversation about Trump’s accusations that Obama had wiretapped his phone days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations related to the presidential campaign, Schneider also expressed weariness with what he considers the constantly manufactured drama.

“At what point is a Republican congressman or senator going to stand up and say, ‘Look, enough of this’?” Schneider said. “Just one day I would love for there not to be some existential crisis here in America over Trump’s tweets.”

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