In case you missed it, the House passed their health care repeal PR stunt, 245-189. Only three Democrats – Mike Ross, Mike McIntyre and Dan Boren – broke with their party on the vote, far less than expected. This puts the Republicans 45 votes short of a 2/3 majority needed to override a promised veto, even if the Senate somehow voted on the bill. That was the subject of an amusing moment late yesterday. Mitch McConnell produced a video assuring a vote on repeal in the Senate. “The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want to vote on this bill,” McConnell said, “but I assure you, we will.” In response, Harry Reid spokesman Jon Summers emailed reporters a one-word answer: “Unlikely.”
It should be fun watching the media try and pressure Democrats into giving an “up or down vote” after Republicans denied that on hundreds of bills over the past two years almost without comment, but other than that, the whole strange saga of repeal is over. And outside of new and exciting Hitler references, I’m not sure what it accomplished.
Because Republicans have only a passing familiarity with reality, today they’ll begin to embark upon replacing health care with their own “free-market solutions.” Hysterically, they’re not even sure when the relevant committees will get around to it:
Republican leaders said they had not set any timetable for the four committees drafting alternatives to the law. “I don’t know that we need artificial deadlines for the committees to act,” Mr. Boehner said. “We expect them to act in an efficient way.”
Republicans said their package would probably include proposals to allow sales of health insurance across state lines; to help small businesses band together and buy insurance; to limit damages in medical malpractice suits; and to promote the use of health savings accounts, in combination with high-deductible insurance policies.
Republicans also want to help states expand insurance pools for people with serious illnesses. The new law includes such pools, as an interim step until broader insurance coverage provisions take effect in 2014, but enrollment has fallen short of expectations.
But these “solutions,” which are just pulled off the shelf of shop-worn, failed ideas they’ve been touting and implementing for several decades as the rolls of the uninsured continue to grow, will serve an important role later. For when the GOP majority defunds the new law, they’ll probably demand a role for some of these replacements.
The Democratic message machine has been on overdrive this week, offering up reams of data and arguments, perhaps more on a per-hour basis than when they were passing the health care law. But absolutely none of these messages focused on the actual threat to the law. Repeal is a sideshow, and rebutting repeal a sideshow of a sideshow. While that distraction plays on center stage, Democrats are awfully silent about how they’re going to implement the components of the law without any funding.