The big news as America gets ready to zip it of the traditionally slow news weekend called New Year’s Eve weekend to another full-fledged news cycle is that the Republicans have made it clear that they will vote to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform program before he delivers his State of the Union address.
And GOPers are also sending out the word that they will find ways to defund the program — essentially starve it so it’s on the books but can’t really operate. So the stage is already set for a classic political battle between Republicans, Democrats and particularly the White House. Which one will have the political smarts to not just prevail but convince the public (particularly independent voters) that they are right?
Few expect the repeal vote to be more than a gesture to the GOP’s base for two reasons: (1)it will never pass in the Senate (2)the votes will not be there to override an Obama veto. But it’s a symbolic vote that is sure to come and also a way for Republicans to very early on underscore what sets their “brand” apart from the Democrats and the previous Democratic Party controlled Congress. The Politico:
The new Republican-controlled House plans to schedule a vote to repeal the sweeping health care overhaul before President Barack Obama delivers his annual State of the Union address late this month, incoming House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Sunday.
“We have 242 Republicans,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There will be a significant number of Democrats, I think, that will join us. You will remember when that vote passed in the House last March, it only passed by seven votes.”
Upton, whose committee will play a key role in the GOP’s effort to roll back the law, said that he believes the House may be near the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto.
“If we pass this bill with a sizeable vote, and I think that we will, it will put enormous pressure on the Senate to do perhaps the same thing,” he said. “But then, after that, we’re going to go after this bill piece by piece.”
Upton specifically called out the requirement for businesses to complete 1099 tax forms, the individual mandate and the Stupak amendment on abortion. “We will look at these individual pieces to see if we can’t have the thing crumble,” he said.
Republicans officially take control of the House on Wednesday.
Republicans cannot repeal health reform while Obama has a presidential veto, but plan instead to block White House efforts to fund its implementation.
“We have 242 Republicans there will be I think a significant number of Democrats I think that will join us,” Upton said.
“If we pass this bill, it will put enormous pressure on the
Senate to do the same thing. But then we’re going to go after this bill piece by piece.”
The Washington Post:
Upton said Republicans would look to overturn key portions of the health-care law, including the individual mandate, a requirement for businesses to complete 1099 tax forms and the so-called Stupak amendment that allows federal money to be spent on abortions in cases of rape or incest.
“We will look at these individual pieces to see if we can’t have the thing crumble,” Upton said.
Democrats said they plan to aggressively defend Obama’s legislative accomplishments, chief among them the health-care bill.
“They’re talking about wasting time repealing health care, when they know that the Senate and administration won’t go along with it. Don’t waste time. Create jobs,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Overriding a presidential veto would require the support of two-thirds of the House. Some Democrats were, and are, skittish about health care. But many of those lawmakers were bounced from office during the 2010 elections and it’s hard to see more than a handful of the remaining members supporting legislation to overturn the president’s signature domestic achievement. And even if they did, it would still have to get 67 votes in the Senate — a chamber that Democrats still control.
Indeed, the far more likely vehicle for chopping down the law seems to be the piecemeal approach that Upton hinted at later on during his segment.
“After that, we’re going to go after this bill piece by piece,” he said. “We’ll look at the 1099 issue — Dave Camps’ committee, Ways and Means — to look at the $600 1099 that has to be processed for every business transaction. We’ll look at the individual mandate requirement and all of those as individual pieces. We are going to take up early the Pitts-Stupak language ‘no funds shall be spent on abortion’ as a separate bill early on. And we will look at the individual pieces to see if we can’t have the thing crumble.”
SOME BLOG REACTION:
If passed, their repeal measure can’t pass the Senate, and wouldn’t overcome a veto.
The GOP wants to pursue repeal just so they can say they pursued repeal. This isn’t going to be policymaking from responsible, problem-solving lawmakers; this is going to be a public-relations stunt. We can probably expect quite a bit of this over the next two years — Republicans are great at campaigning, but tend to have trouble governing once the election has come and gone.
But I continue to think there are opportunities here for Democrats. To hear Upton tell it, one of the very first votes House Republicans will cast in the new Congress is raising taxes on small businesses. And adding over a trillion dollars to the debt. And taking away health care coverage for millions. And making seniors pay more for prescription drugs while weakening Medicare. And allowing insurers to discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions.
To be sure, Republicans won’t put it this way, but their rhetoric is irrelevant against the reality — by voting for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, they’re voting for the consequences that come with the law’s elimination.
If Dems fail to go on the offensive on this, they’re missing an opportunity.
I’m not saying Democrats should give up. I’m just saying it’s a long, long slog. It’s a fight that will be won, if it is won, primarily on the basis of emotion, not facts.
Frankly, if Democrats are going to win, they’re going to win because of time. Their best hope is to let the law come into effect and say, after some time has passed, “Oh, you like that? That’s Obamacare.” (Of course, many provisions of the law don’t take effect for years.)
On the other hand, there’s one potentially huge pitfall for Republicans in their plan to fight the bill a hundred different ways (total repeal efforts, repeal efforts by pieces, defunding efforts, legal challenges): in the next two years, unemployment will still be high, and they’ll be the party that seems obsessed with health care rather than the economy and jobs. That was the Democrats’ downfall over the last two years; maybe now it will be the Republicans’.
Some of these provisions, like repealing the onerous and unnecessary 1099 reporting requirements which will hit small businesses most directly, actually have a fairly decent chance of making it through both the House and the Senate if put up as individual bills. What President Obama does with them will then be his choice, but if the GOP plays its cards right on this piece-by-piece strategy rather than going for the Hail Mary Pass of a complete repeal that has no chance of succeeding, they might actually grab a few victories over the next two years.