Repeal Obamacare Through Reconciliation


I know there are lots of folks who are tired of hearing about repealing Obamacare. There are reasons, however, for the GOP in Congress to continue beating the repeal drum. First, the law remains persistently and broadly unpopular, which is almost historically unprecedented for a law that was essentially billed as an entitlement program. Second, the law continues to have a ruinous effect on employment figures, health care costs, and the tax bills of ordinary Americans, as this video from the Daily Signal illustrates:


All of the football-spiking from the Democrats and loud proclamations that Obamacare is working and doing a great job have utterly failed to move the American people – or, more importantly, reality.

Now that Republicans control both chambers of Congress, they are contemplating passing a repeal bill of Obamacare through the reconciliation process, the same process that allowed the bill to be passed in the first place after the surprise election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

Ultimately, any such bill will inevitably be vetoed by Obama – but at least it will become clear to the American public that the only thing standing between them and the final repeal of this terrible law is the fact that a Democrat occupies the White House. That’s useful information heading into a Presidential election year.

The stakes in this fight are even higher with the looming King v. Burwell decision that might ultimately doom Obamacare’s core functionality. While some Democrats (and, increasingly, some cowardly Republicans) have taken the delusional position that a victory for the plaintiffs would somehow be disastrous for Republicans (who had nothing to do with either the drafting or the passing of the law in the first place), even folks like Jeffrey Toobin have noticed that this particular spin is likely to go over like a dead duck:

So that’s the theory: millions will suddenly be uninsured, and will blame Republicans. As [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ], the Democratic leader in the Senate, put it recently, “I don’t think they will [win the case]. If they do, that’s a problem that the Republicans have.”

No, it’s not. If the Obama Administration loses in the Supreme Court, the political pain will fall almost exclusively on the President and his Party. To paraphrase Colin Powell and the Pottery Barn rule, President Obama will have broken health care, so he owns it. To the vast mass of Americans who follow politics casually or not at all, Obamacare and the American system of health care have become virtually synonymous. This may not be exactly right or fair, but it’s a reasonable perception on the part of most people. The scope of the Affordable Care Act is so vast, and its effects so pervasive, that there is scarcely a corner of health care, especially with regards to insurance, that is unaffected by it. So if millions lose insurance, they will hold it against Obamacare, and against Obama. Blaming the President in these circumstances may be unfair, but it’s the way American politics works.

Republicans, of course, will encourage this sentiment. The precise legal claim in King v. Burwell is an esoteric one. It is not based on a claim that Obamacare is unconstitutional. (The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law three years ago.) Rather, the central assertion by the plaintiffs is that the Obama Administration violated the law itself. In any event, the subtlety of the issue at the heart of the case will surely be lost in its aftermath. The headlines will read, correctly, “Court rules against Obamacare,” and this will be all that matters. The Republicans will argue that the Supreme Court showed that the law was flawed from the start, that the Obama Administration is lawless, that a full repeal of the law is the only appropriate response to the Court’s decision—and that the millions who lose their subsides should blame the sponsor of the law. Watch for references to a “failed Presidency.” They’ll be plenty of them.

At the end of the day, Republicans can make clear, if nothing else, that the eight years of the Obama presidency have ultimately amounted to absolutely nothing on the domestic front, and complete full scale disaster on the foreign policy front. For that reason alone, repealing Obamacare through reconciliation is a game that’s worth the candle.