Pages: 1 2
Even before taking office, Republicans slated a vote on the repeal of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul bill for January 12. The repeal is expected to pass comfortably in the House, but stall in the Senate. Yet Democrats in the upper chamber are notably weakened and the controversial “insurance mandate,” integral to the president’s healthcare plan, is quickly losing support. Six Democratic Senate seats were lost to Republicans in the midterm election, with a number of remaining Democrats, such as Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), signaling that they will align with Republicans on a host of issues. McCaskill, who is noted as being close to the president, has said she is amenable to getting rid of the insurance mandate, which is highly unpopular in her state. Manchin disapproves of the mandate and has claimed he will vote for the repeal if it is not removed. Senators Ben Nelson (D-FL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CN) have both indicated they will review the healthcare bill, especially apropos the insurance mandate.
House Democrats are still led by Nancy Pelosi, who was voted minority leader also on Wednesday. But a resolute constituency of nineteen moderate Democrats refused to vote for the embattled former speaker, opting instead for moderate Heath Shuler. This sends a clear message to both Pelosi and President Obama that the days of rank-and-file liberalism are over. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) has projected that if the vote to repeal Obamacare wholesale receives strong enough bipartisan support in the House, “it will put enormous pressure” on the Senate to do the same. At the very least, piecemeal repeal would stand a much greater likelihood of success.
This is especially true of the insurance mandate, which appears to be seriously imperiled at this time. It is highly unlikely that measures that are popular with the public, such those that allow children to stay on parental health insurance longer or that prohibit the termination of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, will be repealed. The paradox is, these practices, cruel as they are, unfortunately keep down the cost curve in a system plagued by state-government-created insurance monopolies, limited risk pools, and costly state regulations. If we are to avoid finding ourselves in exactly the same situation a few years hence, and if we are to truly stop “kick[ing] the can down the road,” as Speaker Boehner said in his Wednesday address, then we must hope that the 112th Congress is willing to be as bold with effective free-market solutions as the 111th was with statist ones. To “end business as usual,” there can be no other way.
Pages: 1 2