My latest column is up at Pajamas Media and in it, I go through the reasons why Obamacare will probably not be repealed, nor declared unconstitutional in its entirety:
Considering the fact that Democrats have deluded themselves into believing that ObamaCare is the nirvana all Americans have been pining for, it would be impolite not to join them in their self-deception.
This, the GOP has apparently taken to heart with talk of repealing ObamaCare. While an excellent idea with much merit, the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing this mirage are insurmountable. Consider:
1. In order to make repeal a reality, the GOP would have to win back both houses of Congress with considerable room to spare, capturing 2/3 of the seats in each chamber. This is because unless Barack Obama has a “road to Damascus” moment about liberty, the Constitution, the free market, and first principles, it is more than likely he will veto said repeal legislation just as quickly as they can load the teleprompter with his remarks on how he is saving “the children.”
2. An alternative to repeal, one that would have the same effect, would be to defund the measure by repealing parts of the bill. This path has the virtue of not needing a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, because the tax credits and Medicaid expansion could be dealt with through the reconciliation process. Before getting too excited, you might want to think of the effect of cutting off subsidies to millions of poor people who have insurance only because the government pays for it. Making yourself an easy target for liberal demonizing is not a sound political strategy.
3. I hate bringing up history at a time like this, but no entitlement program once enacted has ever been repealed. “There’s a first time for everything” might be a tempting battle cry to employ, until you realize that the reason history is not on our side is because constituencies rapidly grow up around entitlements, making them as politically indestructible as the pyramids. The yowls of pain from beneficiaries of any entitlement that is under threat of major overhaul or repeal resonate with that significant portion of the electorate who gets all weepy at the thought of any American suffering for any reason. It is a major source of our strength as a nation - and it might be the death of us in the end.
Apropos my comment earlier in the week about the GOP eventually embracing national health insurance (which I shamelessly repeated in this piece), Senator Chuck Grassley has already made noises about fixing Obamacare rather than repealing it. And I think “repeal and replace” a far more intelligent political strategy than simple “repeal.”
But when you can’t move the mountain, isn’t it smarter to figure out ways to deal with it where it is? I would love to see Obamacare repealed but its never happened before and there is absolutely nothing about this situation that would make me think differently. Unless there is a total, unmitigated financial disaster before November, or unemployment skies, or inflation starts to really bite, the GOP will not win back control of the Senate, and taking over the House is also a problematic question.
Thus, with Obama firmly ensconced in the presidency until at least 2012, it seems a fanciful notion to entertain thoughts of repeal until at least 2013 — and that’s assuming Obama loses and the GOP picks up enough senate seats to defeat any filibuster attempt.
It’s not impossible - just not very likely. And saying so doesn’t make me a “defeatist.” It makes me a realist. Wishful thinking in this matter is the sign of a weak mind, easily swayed by emotion rather than logic.
Perhaps it’s too much to ask that the rank emotionalism that characterized this debate be put away and strategy formed by reason, not hysteria. But the GOP leadership, having unleashed and in some ways, encouraged this anger, is now finding it hard to control. How much of this rage is real and how much is exaggerated we’ll never know. But it seems to me that cooler heads must lead the coming fight and that by relying on hyperbolic, exaggerated rhetoric to whip up support for the cause simply isn’t necessary. Just as it wasn’t - isn’t - necessary to lie or exaggerate the worst parts of Obamacare. The bill is bad enough that it should have been defeated on its imprudent, costly, and coercive demerits.
We’ll never know if that approach would have worked. Just like we’ll never know if the Democrats had limited their goals with the bill if any GOP lawmakers would have joined them. Both sides have made their excessively partisan beds and now must lie in them. For the Democrats, everytime someone is in a doctor’s waiting room for more than 2 hours, they will be blamed. Every time a medical outcome goes against a patient, they will be blamed. Every snafu, every bottleneck, everything that could possibly go wrong with an individual’s medical care, the Democrats will be blamed. They bought the health care system lock, stock, and barrel. That’s the price they are going to pay for failing to heed the calls for prudence, and rational reform.
For the GOP, they will have to take care that they don’t appear to favor repeal at the expense of the weakest members of society. This is where “replace” comes in and where the GOP better step up to the plate with a better idea than simply throwing 30 million people into Medicaid. I think they can do it, but they have to get the base to agree that there’s a problem with the health care system to begin with. Once that’s done, the Republicans could move forward aggressively with an alternative to Obamacare; cheaper, more realistic, and one that addresses the real problems that the GOP failed to address during the Bush years.
With an astonishing 55% of Americans wanting to repeal the bill already, it’s not like Republicans will be wandering in the wilderness. With so much of this bill based on coercion, the Democrats may yet discover that when it comes to being told what to do, a majority of American still say to hell with what the Europeans are doing, health care reform is inimical to the first principles of personal responsibility and individual liberty.