Congress vs. Obamacare

Rich Trzupek is a veteran environmental consultant and senior advisor to the Heartland Institute. He is the author of the new book Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry (Encounter Books).


When the 112th Congress convenes on Wednesday, the first thing that the new Republican leadership in the House plans to do is to read the text of the Constitution aloud. Following that, the first bill that the GOP expects to vote on in the House will be on repealing Obamacare. Both moves are equally symbolic, as Republicans try to convince voters that the message delivered on November 2, 2010 has been received loud and clear. The House vote to repeal the healthcare bill should take place next Wednesday, January 12, if everything goes according to plan.

It is expected that the repeal bill will sail through the House, perhaps even with a veto-proof majority. Fred Upton (R-MI), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sounded upbeat about the bill’s chances on Fox News Sunday. “We have 242 Republicans. There will be a significant number of Democrats, I think, that will join us,” Upton said. “Remember when [Speaker Nancy Pelosi] said we want to pass this thing because then we’ll learn what’s in it? Well, now the American public does know what is in it. Unpopularity numbers are as high as 60 percent across the country. I don’t think we’re going to be that far off from having the votes to actually override a veto.”

That’s the good news on healthcare, but the bad news is that is all the good news there is. The repeal will pass the House, but it’s unlikely that Majority Leader Harry Reid would allow the bill to come up for a vote in the Senate, very doubtful that the bill would pass in the Senate if it did come up for a vote, and – even if the stars somehow aligned to make both of the forgoing events possible – it’s inconceivable that sufficient Senate votes could be found to override a certain presidential veto. In short, direct repeal of Obamacare isn’t going to happen. Yet, the attempt to do so must be made for at least two reasons. Resentment and dissatisfaction over the healthcare bill and all of the spending it represents runs deep. Accordingly, elected representatives must demonstrate that they are listening to their constituents and try to go after Obamacare using the most direct and effective route available. Second, this sort of frontal assault, though doomed to failure, sets the stage for the flanking attacks that must follow. An attempt to repeal Obamacare in one stroke is a signal that the tenor of the battle in the halls of Congress is changing.

If the healthcare bill is to be effectively killed, it will almost undoubtedly be by a death of a thousand cuts rather that the kind of sudden decapitation envisioned in the repeal bill. The GOP has already announced its intention to go after Obamacare from every possible angle. The hope is that while any single strategy to wound the plan might not be enough, the combination of all possible strategies might effectively eviscerate the government’s attempt to take over America’s healthcare system. Among the strategies that Republicans are using or plan to use to achieve that end are:

• Supporting efforts to have the courts declare key portions of the healthcare bill unconstitutional. The so-called “individual mandate” to purchase health insurance is the natural legal target. In December, US District Judge Henry Hudson found that the requirement to purchase health insurance is, in his learned opinion, unconstitutional. It seems likely that this issue will travel to the Supreme Court before it is decided once and for all.

• The sovereignty of the states is another part of the legal strategy, and the lawsuit filed by twenty states in an attempt to void Obamacare continues to make its way through the court system.

• If the entire healthcare bill cannot be repealed in one stroke, certain provisions of the bill may be repealed bit by bit. Some parts of the bill, such as requirements that would make small businesses fill out even more tax forms than they do already, seem ripe for the picking.

• Finally, the GOP plans to withhold funding for some key parts of Obamacare, for instance, funding to the Internal Revenue Service for enforcement of the insurance mandate. It is hoped that this will help make the overall plan unravel all the quicker.

Finally, while it’s vitally important to dismantle the healthcare bill by any means possible, it will be incumbent upon this Congress to propose an alternative vision as well. Simply returning to the status quo pre-Obamacare isn’t going to cut it. There are commonsense, free market solutions to help rein in insurance and healthcare costs. Congress needs to embrace those kinds of alternatives at the same time that it rejects what is in effect, if not in name, European-style socialized medicine.

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  • Rifleman

    Piecemeal repeal is only partial repeal, and likely to be left incomplete. It was passed all at once, it should be repealed all at once.

    Who would do business with companies slimy enough to spam comment sections?

    • ajag23

      This actually happened in the late eighties with the Nursing Home bill, that was passed and then completely repealed due to popular opposition. What's so different now?

  • davarino

    Again O will be worse than Carter, a one termer and all his agendas will have been shut down and leglislation passed will have been repealed. O what a difference two years makes : 0

    If they have to do it piece by piece, fine, that is better than nothing at all. These guys want to drag it out till 2012, great, they are really digging themselves a deep hole.

  • Mach1Duck

    Senators and Congressmen:
    It is up to you and your colleagues to put a halt to the runaway executive branch of the Government. That is what you were elected for and that is your responsibility. This would include the rape of the American economy by regualtions passed by branches of the government other than the legeslative.
    Thank you for your attention, we are watching closely.

  • tanstaafl

    If efforts to repeal Obamacare succeed and, as a result, the economy picks up – does this mean Obama, Pelosi and Reid were wrong?

    No, the left is never wrong. They just didn't communicate their message as good as they should have.

    • PeterB

      Actually that wasn't even their fault. The public just wasn't bright enough to understand what they were saying.

    • trickyblain

      The economy is recovering – does that mean it is a result of health care being passed last year?

      The efforts will not succeed. It has to go through the Senate before it gets vetoed.

  • USMCSniper

    This paragraph says it all:

    The Obamacare repeal will pass the House, but it’s unlikely that Majority Leader Harry Reid would allow the bill to come up for a vote in the Senate, very doubtful that the bill would pass in the Senate if it did come up for a vote, and – even if the stars somehow aligned to make both of the forgoing events possible – it’s inconceivable that sufficient Senate votes could be found to override a certain presidential veto. In short, direct repeal of Obamacare isn’t going to happen. The will of the people is meaningless.

  • http://www.mysapce.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

    All of the boys in Congress will go along to get big money, the facts are in front of you and the facts tell any who want to look what this government really is. watch the political monkeys inside the Senate many will be happy to sell-out soon for the big money, Obamacare is just the start.

  • jgreene

    The ObamaCare Repeal Bill in the House was never expected to be effective withought a Republican Majority in the Senate and a Republican President in the White House. The Plan is to use the next two years to continue to push Repeal and educate the American Electorate as to the DISASTER of ObamaCare.

    Total Repeal can occur in 2013 once the Socialist-Marxists are driven from the Senate and White House.

    • trickyblain

      So, they are wasting time. On the taxpayer dole. Nice.

  • Paul

    Why wait for 2013? I say repeal Obama by forcing the submission of documents relating to his past.

    In one stroke we get rid of ‘everything’ that the 111th congress and the usurper have been doing to this country. Game, point, match.

  • trickyblain

    "There are commonsense, free market solutions to help rein in insurance and healthcare costs. Congress needs to embrace those kinds of alternatives at the same time that it rejects what is in effect, if not in name, European-style socialized medicine."

    The 2010 Health care law is nothing like European/Israeli-style socialized medicine. Truzpeck is just speaking in Teapartian. I do love his first statement above, about how there are "commonsense" (you betcha!) solutions, but not bothering to tell us what they are.

    "There is an easy way to fly to Mars for less than one dollar! If you elect republicans, we'll tell you how!"
    [crowd cheers wildly, chants about socialism]

  • http://www.hotexchangerates.com/ exchangerates

    Maybe Obamacare has a negative connotation to it?? Dunno. Does Obamacare sound derogatory to others??

    I took it as shorthand speak like "Bush tax cuts".

    The layman would not understand what was meant by "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010" as (possibly) amended by the "Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010".

  • Wesley69

    The House will repeal ObamaCare on schedule. The Senate, if the Republicans hold their number, may have defections from the Democrat ranks.

    The Democrats up for reelection in 2012 will make this calculation:

    IF I VOTE TO REPEAL, I CAN TELL MY CONSTITUENTS I VOTED TO REPEAL. IF THE BILL PASSES THE SENATE IT GOES TO OBAMA WHO WILL VETO IT. TO OVERRIDE HIS VETO, A 2/3RD'S VOTE IS NEEDED IN BOTH HOUSES. IT WILL FAIL IN THE SENATE. OBAMACARE STAYS, BUT I HAVE POLITICAL COVER.

  • Wesley69

    If Congress can't get rid of ObamaCare and the Supreme Court rules it as constitutional, THE STATES NEED TO GO TO WORK!!!

    ***ANOTHER SOLUTION – THE REPEAL AMENDMENT – THE STATES'S VETO***

    "Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."

    For more info check http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12144

    If this became an amendment to the Constitution, the States by a 2/3rds vote of state legislatures could repeal ObamaCare. IT IS DEAD!!!!!!!!

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