In an opening bid that’s more of a mood setter than an actual policy expected to be signed into law by the President, the new Republican leadership is likely to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act as one of their first bills in Congress. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the incoming chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said yesterday that the House would bring up the repeal bill before the State of the Union address.
Hilariously, House Republicans are basing their policy agenda on a country and western song:
Health care is only one item on an aggressive agenda of Republicans eager to distinguish themselves quickly from the House that was run by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Many seem to have latched on to “Undo It” the hit by the country singer Carrie Underwood, as the refrain for their planned attack against legislation that grew out of the 111th Congress, when the Democrats were at the helm in both chambers.
This may be a nice feather in the cap to show to the Tea Party base, and it will be interesting to see how many House Democrats cross over to vote for it. But that bill won’t go anywhere in the Senate, and even if by some miracle it did, there’s the Obama veto backstop. There’s not even a pretense of “repeal and replace,” which was the mantra immediately after the ACA got signed. Just a full repeal, and let the free market elves sort it out in the fantastic way they have that has led us to 50 million uninsured. And they put in a special exemption from budgetary rules to allow for repeal, which the CBO would show would increase the budget deficit by over $140 billion dollars in the first ten years and over a trillion in the next ten. It’s not a serious effort.
The real policy agenda comes when they can use the budget and the debt limit as leverage. Passing a health care repeal bill is more of a shadow play. And there will be piecemeal efforts to repeal after the full repeal fails. For instance, there’s the 1099 reporting, which both sides agree should be altered but which they haven’t come up with a change to because House Republicans want to take credit for fixing it or place the blame on Democrats for passing in the first place. And then there will be some Stupak-type bill, codifying the executive order from the President that has already been signed. Finally, they’ll try to just defund the law.
So the pomp and circumstance of a repeal bill is almost meaningless. It’s the chipping away that will determine the ACA’s success. Everything else is bad references to war battles:
“That’s what we promised the American people who are still in the 60 percent range in strong opposition to it. They gave us a net of 63 Republicans in the House of Representatives — and believe me, the people out there, they’re going to hold our feet to the fire,” [Rep. Phil Gingrey] said.
“And, they may say, you know, look, don’t just say you’re not going to do it because it’s too heavy a lift,” Gingrey said. “For goodness’ sakes, back in 2006, when we were about to lose the battle in Iraq, thank goodness our patriots fought in the Anbar province and Fallujah and turned that thing around.”
Um, the way that they “turned Fallujah around” was by paying off the Sunnis. The extended metaphor doesn’t really work.