Sahil Kapur wrote a really informative article at Talking Points Memo, Republicans Warn of New Obamacare Reality: No Repeal Without Alternative. It looks at the state of Republican Obamacare delusion. The only reasonably rational statement came from an anonymous Republican aide who said that in order to come up with a viable Obamacare replacement “you have to move in the direction of the ACA.” This will come as no surprise to readers of this blog. Obamacare doesn’t exist the way it does because Democrats just really like complicated laws. If you want to have popular things like no denial for pre-existing conditions, you have to have unpopular things like the individual mandate. Otherwise, given our insurance industry based healthcare, it doesn’t work.
The rest of the article was just a bunch of politicians posturing. That’s to be expected, because that’s what politicians do. I don’t blame them; it’s us voters who make that necessary. But I was very taken by something Eric Cantor said, “We are about proposing real health care reform that will be patient centered—and a plan that we will put forward this year.” Okay, it’s delusional. I don’t even know what “patient centered” means; it seems to imply that Obamacare takes individuals’ healthcare choices away from them, which is absolutely not true. But I’m stuck with the timeline: some time this year.
Obamacare was signed into law over four years ago. The fact that the Republicans felt no need to come up with anything until now (maybe) shows what they actually want to do: nothing. They don’t want to “repeal and replace,” they just want to “repeal.” At this point, the Republican elites are realizing two bitter truths. First, Obamacare isn’t going anywhere. Second, it isn’t actually that bad. It is, after all, a market-centered law to fix our broken healthcare system. Conservatives all claimed to like it until the Democrats proposed it.
The problem is that the right wing propaganda machine has spend about five years convincing the base that it is, “Socialism! Socialism, I tell you!” So the elites can’t just shrug off the defeat and move on. They have to continue this charade that Obamacare is a takeover of healthcare, blah, blah, blah. And thus we get Cantor’s new plan for an Obamacare replacement. It’s pathetic.
But I know how this will go. Or, at least, I know how this will go at best. Cantor will come out with a plan that is a minor variation on Obamacare. It will be what the Republicans could have gotten in the first place if they hadn’t just decided that each and every one of them were going to vote against it. It is what they would have gotten if they had worked to strengthen the law rather than just kill it. It is what they would have gotten if their primary concern had not been to simply deprive Obama of a political victory.
And if they do come out with this best case scenario plan, they will do what Republicans do best: they will sell it. They will magnify the minor differences and try to convince the base that they weren’t just lying for the last five years. But I’m afraid that they are doomed to fail. The base doesn’t seem to know much of anything about Obamacare except that they hate it. When the plan comes out, the Heritage Foundation will look at it and report, “This is just a minor variation on Obamacare.” And the base will rise up and Cantor will quietly bury the plan.
But by then, the election will be over and the nation will get on with the important work of forgetting that Obamacare was ever contentious. I give it 20 years.