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Obamacare redux: repeal and replace

Obamacare redux: repeal and replace

Will the bill get to Obama’s desk?

[UPDATE 1/6/2016: The answer to the question is yes, the bill will get to Obama’s desk. The measure passed.]

Remember that slogan, “repeal and replace”? There have actually been quite a few bills passed in the House to repeal Obamacare during the last couple of years, whether you’ve noticed them or not. Here’s an article about it from this past October:

House Republicans pushed forward with another vote to roll back the Affordable Care Act on Friday, passing a bill that would repeal several major pillars of President Obama’s landmark 2010 law, including the requirement that Americans have health coverage.

The legislation, the latest of more than 50 bills by congressional Republicans to repeal all or part of the health law, would also halt federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

The 240-189 vote will not change anything in the health law or Planned Parenthood, however, as Obama has indicated he would veto the bill if it ever reaches his desk.

People complain all the time about Republicans controlling Congress and yet being unable—or is it unwilling?—to do something. The power of a presidential veto often seems to leave the majority Republicans saying they have little recourse but a shutdown, a move they’ve been reluctant to take.

Whatever one thinks of the reasonableness of the Republican failure to do what was promised—and most conservatives don’t think it’s the least bit reasonable—something seems to be changing. It may be “too little, too late” for you (or even for the country), or you may think it’s a case of more kabuki theater.

The change appears to be at least in part a reaction to the growing sense that Congressional Republicans must have that their base is very very angry. This has been brought home to them by the popularity of such non-establishment candidates as Fiorina, Carson, and of course Donald Trump. It also is a result of conservative members of Congress using their influence to pressure Boehner to resign.

I wrote about the prelude to the current move back in early December. At that point, something different had occurred in the Senate, not just the House, even though McConnell was and is still in charge in the Senate. The mechanism by which it occurred was reconciliation, the hair of the dog that bit them:

While the House and Senate have voted scores of times to repeal portions of Obamacare, this was the first time they are using a special tool known as “budget reconciliation” that allow the measure to clear the Senate with just 51 votes instead of the 60 votes typically required for major legislation. That higher threshold has allowed Democrats to block all past repeal efforts.

Here’s what Jeff Sessions said about it at the time:

“It demonstrates that if you have a president prepared to support health care reform, it could pass next time,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act who insisted this was not a show vote just because the President will veto the bill. “If this vote occurred after the next presidential election, instead of vetoing it the President would sign it. This would force a bipartisan reevaluation of health care in America and put us in a position to make major changes.”

That was a month ago. Now, we have this:

Within hours of reconvening Tuesday, the GOP-led Congress will finally act to fulfill a 2010 promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

The effort is set to begin Tuesday afternoon when the House Rules Committee meets on the repeal measure, with a full debate and vote as early as Tuesday [actually, Wednesday]. With the Republican-led Senate having already passed its version, GOP congressional leaders will send the measure to President Obama, daring him to veto it.

Obama will undoubtedly veto the measure to undo his signature health care law, and Congress has nowhere near the votes to override a presidential veto.

But Republicans hope the entire exercise might start to change the circumstance on Capitol Hill regarding the years-old argument about ObamaCare and its repeal.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is promising to unveil a bill to, in fact, replace ObamaCare…

…[W]ith Ryan now at the helm in the House and the GOP controlling the Senate, this may be one of the few chances the party has to come together around a bill which would replace the six-year-old law…

Ryan won’t be able to implement the replacement package either with Obama still in the White House in 2016 — if it does, in fact, get that far. But if Ryan’s successful, he’ll have come a lot further than anyone else has before.

Read the rest of the article, which describes the reconciliation process.

Obama will veto it, but:

The GOP hopes it can artfully message its plans to design and approve a replacement bill for ObamaCare — with something with a lot more policy teeth than the other parliamentary gymnastics of just voting to repeal parts or all of the legislation over and over again.

Republicans also are hoping the public embraces these policy ideas as a contrast to those propounded by Obama and Democrats with health care topping the list.

Republicans didn’t control the Senate until a year ago. But when they took control, many people (and I was initially one of them) were hoping that Congress would be placing bill after bill on Obama’s desk—bills he would veto, but which would highlight what he was blocking and show what the Republicans stood for in contrast. That didn’t happen, and the reason was probably threefold, in no particular order: Boehner’s “leadership,” the Senate filibuster giving the Democrats the power to block legislation there, and a lack of understanding or perhaps caring on the part of some of the more moderate Republicans about how angry the base had become. Now Boehner is no longer in charge, and Congress seems to have taken in some of the message about the rage.

The filibuster is still in place. However, the reconciliation process—which can only be used for certain bills, not all of them—is perfect for this one. And it’s nicely ironic, because that’s the way Obamacare was sneaked by in the first place.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]

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Comments

The utter joke of a budget they just passed shows how little the RINOs in Congress care about their base.

Now they’re just pretending like they actually tried to do something. Make no mistake. If McConnell thought for one instant that this had any hope of actually going into effect he’d kill it.

Kabuki theater is exactly what they are doing.

    Valerie in reply to Olinser. | January 5, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    For the Republican-majority Congress to pass a bill over a Presidential veto, the size of the majority must be veto-proof. The Republicans DO NOT have a veto-proof majority in Congress.

    If the Republicans do not have the tools they need to actually pass legislation over a Presidential veto when the President is a Democrat, why the hell do you castigate them as RINOs? Why don’t you blame the voters who sent enough Democrats to Congress to thwart your desires?

    Unless you are actually a Democrat, and you want to do damage to the reputation of any and all prominent Republicans?

      Because Olinser, like most of us, know they’re full of crap, and this is nothing but show – about as genuine as Obama’s blubbering.

      We need a very serious purge of Congress. At least on the GOP side, where we exercise some control, and in the process wipe that stupid, backstabbing off the face of Paul Boehner, the bearded nothing.

      JimMtnViewCaUSA in reply to Valerie. | January 6, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      Valerie, I strongly disagree. The point has been made on any number of forums: if Repubs desire to remain a viable political force, they should pass popular gov’t-cutting-bills every single week from now to November.

      Let Obama veto them.
      Start showing the base (and the country!) what we’ll get if we elect a Repub president in the Fall.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Valerie. | January 6, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      If the GOPe doesn’t send up bills, even knowing they’ll be vetoed, the Democrats can accurately say the GOPe did nothing. If the GOPe does send up bills that get vetoed they can accurately say we did everything we could, but Obama vetoed all of it. This is how the party out of the WH delineates itself from the opposition. It is basic federal politics and has been done literally for centuries because it is effective. Well, until this current GOPe group of damp dishrags took over.

Henry Hawkins | January 5, 2016 at 9:37 pm

“and Congress seems to have taken in some of the message about the rage.”

Uh, yeah… no.

“The filibuster is still in place. However, the reconciliation process—which can only be used for certain bills, not all of them—is perfect for this one. And it’s nicely ironic, because that’s the way Obamacare was sneaked by in the first place.”

Well, the way I sees it, you can poor-mouth this, or you can get active and militant behind doing the right thing.

Up to you… Tomorrow, I know ONE senator who’ll hear from me. (The other will already be right on this.)

Subotai Bahadur | January 6, 2016 at 1:00 am

This is more Potemkin voting. Less than a month ago, rather than push through a Regular Order budget as they promised before the election in 2014, as they promised after the election of 2014 until they passed the first Criminal Omnibus bill that gave Obama everything he wanted, as they promised to do for the budget due in 2015 after catching a ration of Scheiss about the previous betrayals; they failed to do it yet again.

Instead, literally, Pelosi and Ryan sat down to a series of private dinners and Ryan gave Pelosi, Obama, and Reid MORE than they had asked for. Including funding Obamacare. If they had kept their word and gone to Regular Order, they could have funded the rest of the government, bill by bill, leaving the Obamacare repeal to the last with no threat of shutting down the government.

After passing the Second Criminal Omnibus Bill, THEN Ryan promised yet again that NEXT year’s budget will be Regular Order. And in the meantime, now they want to do a separate, easily vetoed bill to de-fund what they have already given them. And claim that proves that they are doing what we want.

Even Ryan and McConnell have said this is just to pacify the base, and then they can drop the subject and move on to their real priority; a new Tax Reform Bill.

That bill will end up being written by Pelosi, give more to those who do not pay taxes, take more from the middle class and those who are not connected to the regime, and pay off those who are. And it is a good bet from the side deal they admitted came out of those dinners; that they will have US pay off Puerto Rico’s defaulted bonds, setting the precedent to also pay off Chicago’s, California’s, and every other Leftist enclave. If you want to deny my prediction, show me once where the Whigs have stood and fought seriously against the Democrats with a fraction of the energy they fight their soon-to-be former voters.

We have been lied to so often and so consistently [hint, if you want to be able to lie for longer, you have to occasionally tell the truth just to keep the mark off balance]; that we know that words mean nothing. Results are all that count. And they are promising no results on this after they just deliberately sabotaged it.

It is more kabuki theater and that is all. BTW Fiorina is NOT a non-establishment candidate.

More BS from the Republicans to show that they tried – but serious efforts would cut the budget and would make this rescinding a budget reconciliation item, in the same way that Obama and the Donks passed the unconstitutional law in the first place.

Will Zero veto it? YES! Will it shut down the government? YES! Does it matter? NO! Because 90 percent of the government will continue to operate anyway.

smalltownoklahoman | January 6, 2016 at 9:05 am

The biggest problem I’ve had with Obamacare is that the federal government is forcing us, the citizens of the U.S.A., to purchase a product or service (health insurance). They are essentially saying that they, the Feds, have the power and authority to force us to engage in commerce, regardless of whether or not we want a product or service, need it, or can even afford it! This to me is what is truly dangerous about this whole fiasco and it is something that needs to be soundly rejected because it blatantly rewards the worst sort of crony capitalism, businesses abusing the power of government to enrich themselves and squeeze our competition, all at tax payer expense. Repealing Obamacare, although something that needs to be done, is not enough in my opinion. We need to make it very clear to the Federal government that while they may have the power and authority to regulate interstate commerce that that power and authority does not extend to forcing us to engage in commerce!

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