Republican lawmakers have made it clear they have no intention of repealing Obamacare in the current Congress.
Republicans in the nation’s top lawmaking body have never really wanted to get rid of Obamacare. They would prefer to present the program, which David Horowitz correctly describes as “the greatest assault on individual freedom and individual choice in our lifetimes,” as a villain and whip up sentiment against it and run against it every election. They view Obamacare as good for the business of politics. They may chip away at it from time to time or tinker with it at the margins, but make no mistake: these creatures of Washington want to keep it in place. This is the Republicans’ dirty secret.
Republicans have been promising to rip Obamacare out root and branch ever since it was enacted. They ramped up their rhetoric after the allegedly conservative-dominated Supreme Court declared the blatantly unconstitutional Obamacare law constitutional in the incoherent NFIB v. Sebelius ruling of 2012. Americans responded to this government takeover of a huge chunk of the economy by electing GOP-controlled congresses in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016, and by electing Donald Trump as president.
Unintimidated by the Left and sneering hack journalists, Trump began the push to bury the misnamed Affordable Care Act and as a result the individual mandate will die at the end of this year. But the bulk of the statute and related rules such as the economically suicidal pre-existing medical conditions mandate remain in place, complete with federal insurance-purchasing subsidies for people who don’t need the help, as well as the sclerotic administrative apparatus, and the odious rule that prevents health insurers from competing across state lines.
The top vote-counters in both chambers say repeal is a no-go for the rest of the year. This ought to worry conservatives because there is a good chance that when the new 116th Congress convenes Jan. 3, 2019, one or both of its chambers will be in the hands of the government healthcare-loving Democrats.
So it’s now or quite possibly never.
“I’m not going to be asking for another vote on that this year,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas reportedly said last week when asked about Obamacare repeal. His counterpart in the House, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, offered excuses for his party’s inaction. “We need to win this election and then get more seats next year.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he won’t revisit Obamacare before this Election Day, and no expects him to change his tune after then and pursue repeal in a lame-duck congressional session.
Whether the return to the battle over the law is a decision “I don’t have to reach anytime soon and don’t have time to facilitate, even if I was so inclined,” McConnell said last week.
Retiring Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) made it clear he couldn’t care less. “I haven’t even thought about it,” he said.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who previously blocked repeal, continue to support keeping the Obamacare law in place.
“I would still oppose outright repeal,” Collins last week. Aides to Murkowski said she “is not interested in another rushed, partisan process in the absence of a quality, comprehensive replacement” for the law.
It’s the same old same old. And it’s not going to change unless reliable hardcore conservatives take over Congress.