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Major conservative activist groups are trashing House Republicans’ health care plan

This seems like a bad sign for the bill’s prospects.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

Several high-profile conservative activist groups have already come out against the House GOP’s health care plan, arguing that it doesn’t go far enough to repeal Obamacare.

The groups — Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, and Freedom Partners — were influential players in several major legislative fights of the Obama era. Using their sway with House conservatives, they generally fight for lower spending, bigger tax cuts, and less government involvement with the private sector.

And all of them are now opposing the House GOP’s plan — a plan already viewed by many as too conservative to pass the Senate — for not being conservative enough.

FreedomWorks called it “Obamacare-lite,” Heritage Action said the bill accepts “the flawed premises of Obamacare,” the Club for Growth called it a “warmed-over substitute for government-run health care,” and the Koch brothers-affiliated Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners complained the bill “repeats the mistakes of Obamacare.”

It remains unclear how much sway these groups will have if President Donald Trump becomes deeply invested in lobbying members of Congress in conservative districts to pass this legislation. Arguably, Trump’s own rise shows that many Republican voters don’t care all that much about ideological purity on issues of spending and entitlements. So perhaps the president will have more sway than these groups on the thinking of conservative representatives who are most concerned with avoiding primary challenges.

Still, it’s surprising that Speaker Paul Ryan and other House leaders didn’t do a better job of getting conservative activist groups on board beforehand to avoid the current outcry. When you roll out a bill, you generally want it accompanied by a bunch of fulsome praise — and this is not that.