Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 3, 2010

HEALTH CARE AND 'THE NEXT TWO YEARS'.... It's safe to assume that House Republicans will, sometime next year, launch some sort of effort to "repeal" the Affordable Care Act. The White House is already signaling today that it's open to compromise on a variety of fronts, but this repeal nonsense is a non-starter.

At his press conference this afternoon, President Obama noted in his opening remarks, "[W]ith so much at stake, what the American people don't want from us, especially here in Washington, is to spend the next two years refighting the political battles of the last two." Health care wasn't mentioned specifically, but likely was what he was referencing.

It came up again soon after, with a reporter asking whether the ACA "is in danger at this point," given GOP support for scrapping the law. The president reiterated:

"Well, I know that there's some Republican candidates who won last night who feel very strongly about it. I'm sure that this will be an issue that comes up in discussions with the Republican leadership. As I said before, though, I think we'd be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years re-litigate arguments that we had over the last two years."

What's more, not long after the press conference, the White House sent around some talking points, making clear the president has no intention of letting the GOP roll back this milestone legislative accomplishment.

"It would be a mistake to spend the next two years re-fighting the political battles of the last two years. The President is proud of the progress we have made for average Americans -- from health care reform, to financial reform and reforms to our education system. While he has always made it clear that he is open to ideas from both sides of the aisle to improve these important new laws, he will not accept attempts to repeal or weaken them."

A couple of angles to keep an eye on here. The first is that the president clearly doesn't seem inclined to budge on this. If Boehner & Co. think Obama will be pushed around on health care, and that with the right leverage, repeal is an option, they're mistaken.

The second is this general framework: re-fighting the battles of the past is a mistake. I get the sense the White House is working on a larger message here -- all Republicans want to do is fight over things that happened in the past, instead of focusing on the future -- which may come up quite a bit in the coming months.

This isn't to say health care tweaks are out of the question, and the president brought up "the 1099 provision" today as "something that we should take a look at." But the underlying message to Republicans intending to push for some wholesale overhaul seemed to be pretty straightforward: don't bother.

Steve Benen 4:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Coverage for pre-existing conditions should have been the centerpiece of the health care legislation.
No one not even the nutjobs have any alternative when you tell them you have a child with an on- going problem.

Posted by: hornblower on November 3, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

There is no way health care reform gets repealed. Even some in the GOP have already admitted that its a longshot. Plus, the consequences of repeal would spell doom for the Republican'ts. They won't go down that road and will look to the court cases brought by the states to try to dismantle it or simply tweak what they can (tort reform) and live with the rest.

Posted by: Gridlock on November 3, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

I hope Obama understands that if he makes one, single concession to the Republicans he's toast. From that point on Republicans will demand complete capitulation. And the Democrats left in Congress who are one loud noise away from a panicked flight will stampede off of a cliff.

As I said earlier, the American people will vote for a strong leader, even when they think he's leading them the wrong way.

I hope Obama understands this but sadly, for myself and for the country, I doubt it.

Posted by: SteveT on November 3, 2010 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think losing the House at this point is a big deal. Dems got as much done as they could reasonably expect to. Did anyone really think they would hold House, Senate, and White House forever? The 'baggers talked a big talk, but repub leadership doesn't want to walk the walk. (Shutting down the government might hurt the Koch Brothers' bond values.) Now it's time to give the repubs enough rope to hang themselves in time for 2012. I'm not sure the Dems won't screw it up anyway, but it's a good plan.

Posted by: Tim H on November 3, 2010 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

On ACA, my prediction is that the GOP will let Issa lead the way with "investigations" of imaginary wrongdoings related to healthcare reform.

If they can continue to use the issue as a way to chuck mud at Obama, they won't bother with attempting actual repeal.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on November 3, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I hope the President realizes he can "read the election" to mean whatever he wants it to mean. He doesn't have to adhere to the script written by the pundit class. By golly, he could even say, "I read the election to mean the economy sucks."

Posted by: bobbo on November 3, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP has seen the future, and it is chock full of Win. You generally seem like a sharp observer, Steve, but you have this habit (is it a shtichk?) of treating the Reps as somehow bound by your concept of Sanity. You seem to expect their next/latest bruising collision with Reality will be The One That Wakes Them Up. It will never happen, but not for the reasons you think.
They are not insane. They are not stupid. They are fully cognizant of the absurdity of their stated public policies, and of the harm those policies will cause.
Here's the thing a lot of people, even intelligent people, are missing:

They don't give a shit! It's the power & money, Stupids! Wake up, Obama! Get yer heads out of your asses, Dems! Time to grow the fuck up, America! These people (Dem/Rep/Whathefukeva) would cheerfully suck the marrow from your children's living bones for another few days of the wealth & privilege to which they've become accustomed, nay! Entitled!

Until that sinks into your heads, all the analysis, messaging, & GOTV efforts will effect about as much, nationally speaking, as my next bout of masturbation.

But, if you like the crazy, keep an eye on Rick Scott here in sunny Florida. He's got crazy backin' up the pipes, Bee-otchiz!

Posted by: Kordo on November 3, 2010 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, I'm sure they'll compromise on some "tweaks" the insurance companies love, and they'll throw in tax cuts for billionaires. Obama practically conceded 2012 in his speech today already, the damn fool.

Posted by: doubtful on November 3, 2010 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Obama may indeed be open to discussions over health care. But I think what will really happen is that there will be some tentative "negotiations" once the Republican leadership gets its side under some measure of control, but without the heat of the recent campaign behind it these won't go very far. Twelve months from now, when the 2012 campaign begins to really heat up, it will be an issue again, but nothing will get done during the primary season, and by the time that's over, some of the positive effects of the new law will begin to take hold, and people will start to see that it isn't a socialized takeover of health care, but an improvement over the absurdity we have now. Time works in the Democrat's favor on this one.

Posted by: Harry on November 3, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Repealing health care would require something repubs are allergic to: work. They'd much rather spend the next 2 years investigating Obama's birth certificate, and holding hearings on potential wrong doings of anyone Obama may have met. They don't like work. They don't respect work. They fight. That's all they know. And that's all they do.

Posted by: JoeW on November 3, 2010 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the irony: the part least popular with "real" (ideological) conservatives, I guess, is the mandate But that's an income gravy train for the insurance companies, and things can't work too well without enough healthy people buying in (yes, really won't work out and they'll just dip into the public system anyway - so those who sympathize with that complain, realize.) So can the cons really get away with just letting the HIPs just not pay people claims again etc? It's kind of ironically weird, maybe a few mirrors if not an entire hall ...

Posted by: neil b on November 3, 2010 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

BTW if I may seque, speaking of taxes: how about take away lots of loopholes, or try: and don't sweat the top rates per se for awhile.

Posted by: neil b on November 3, 2010 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

neil b said:
So can the cons really get away with just letting the HIPs just not pay people claims again etc?

If a health insurance corporation recinds a policy and no one from the media corporations reports it, did it really happen?

Posted by: SteveT on November 3, 2010 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

There are three ways to deregulate corporations:

1) Change regulations law through legislation.

2) Appoint regulators who never recognize anything that corporations do as violating the regulations (the Bush Admin's favorite).

3) Set the fines for violating regulations so low that the violations become nothing more than a minor business expense.

Republicans in the incoming Congress may choose #3 and try to lower the fines for recinding policies and denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

But I expect that the real repeal effort will come when the next Republican president appoints regulators who will consider a policyholder forgetting to report an office procedure to treat an ingrown toenail to be complete justification for the insurance corporations to cancel their policy when the policyholder needs major surgery or cancer treatments.

Posted by: SteveT on November 3, 2010 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

You're failing to get it:

1. Republicans aren't serious about "repealing health care." They KNOW they can't possibly do that as long as Obama is president.

2. However, they are not as stupid as Obama and Democrats who instantly start kicking the base of their party the instant they take power!

They know that the Tea-baggers WANT THEM TO FIGHT FOR REPEAL!!

It will suck all the oxygen out of Washington for the next 2 years. It will gear up the base for 2012. It will serve as an excuse when they fail to get anything done.

OBAMA "blocked us from accomplishing the nation's will" on HCR repeal. So, turn out in even greater numbers in 2012 and this time we'll win! We'll complete the job!

It's all about messaging. Something Republicans do very well and Democrats are too stupid even to attempt.

Obama is particularly hopeless because he thinks that "substance" ought to somehow be enough. It never has been and it never will be.

All Madison avenue proves it: it doesn't matter if you're selling pure crap or giving away dollar bills, it's all in the hype!

Posted by: Cugel on November 3, 2010 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

You think the Repugs don't KNOW that there's no chance they'll repeal the ACA??? They just want to take potshots at the ACA and Obama himself for points going into the 2012 election.

Posted by: EriktheRed on November 3, 2010 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK
There are three ways to deregulate corporations:

1) Change regulations law through legislation.

2) Appoint regulators who never recognize anything that corporations do as violating the regulations (the Bush Admin's favorite).

3) Set the fines for violating regulations so low that the violations become nothing more than a minor business expense.

You missed at least one:

#4. Don't provide funds to enable the enforcement agency to actually enforce the regulation.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 3, 2010 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Best question ever (not a direct quote): Mr. Obama, you once stated that "elections have consequences" and used that line to forward your agenda... what are the consequences of this election??


Posted by: CT Voter on November 3, 2010 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Well CT Voter, then back to that the 2008 election should have had consequences ... I want it to have consequences first, that really matter and get a chance to be tried and to last, before you can start whining that the 2010 election should have consequences - OK?

BTW, everyone - if you think Obama didn't get anything done or hear that line, check this out:

Posted by: neil b on November 3, 2010 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

CT Voter asked:
what are the consequences of this election??

The serious institution problems in this country -- energy, education, stagnating incomes, etc. -- won't be addressed in a serious way. The baby steps toward reform of health coverage and Wall Street will come to an abrupt halt. The effects of the Republican Recession will be with us for years. And about the time the economy starts looking better the next economic Bubble and Crash will hit.

In short, the country is screwed.

Posted by: SteveT on November 3, 2010 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

I was right, the first comments section and already eveything is going to hell in a handbasket!
Right now, although no-one seems to realize it, the Republican Party is the one in the cross-hairs; not ours, their own. If they try to pass ANY Teabagger legislation, they will lose every independent voter in the country. If the DON'T try to pass Teabagger legislation, they lose their base. Which is it going to be?
The only thing that will allow the Republican/Teabaggers to even have a chance in 2012 is the enabling MSM. Unless/until the MSM again begins practicing journalism, it is going to be very difficult to get the facts out to the voters.
That is where the DNC/DCCC/SDC/OfA, the Democratic politicians at state and Federal level, the President and any other progressive/liberal/just plain old Democratic organizations are going to have to step in. It will require planning and hard work, so right there we're ahead of the Republicans on the latter.
I refuse to let the bastards* get me down. Don't let 'em get to you, either...

*I'm NOT referring to the Democrat du jour, either!

Posted by: Doug on November 3, 2010 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Amazingly no one has pointed out the deep cynicism (or lies) that both Steve and the Obama acolytes told during the HCR debate about "incrementally" improving it once it passed.

It was always a deceit and know we can confirm that not only is Obama (or any other Dem) NOT going to improve on it, but Obama in his own words is going to weaken it further by compromising ever more.

It was always going to be this way and for those of you folks who were calling people "childish" for insisting on no compromise at the time, well here's your reality.

There was only one party who didn't compromise in the last two years and voted as a bloc in all or nothing and that was the party that just retook the house.

It's unfortunate that Dems never seem to learn this lesson, even while calling the other party the "party of stupid". Their voters might be stupider but their politicians just kicked your *ss. Again.

Posted by: Observer on November 3, 2010 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

This election was yet again an example of the GOP relying on its older white voters (a shrinking demographic), and benefiting from the fact that few younger voters turned out. But that's a trend that won't work in the GOP's favor over the long term.

Posted by: Speed on November 3, 2010 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

this repeal nonsense is a non-starter.

True: Congress will repeatedly modify the health care act to benefit important constituencies and contributors.

However, it would be a good political move for the new House to introduce and pass a one-line bill repealing it, since the law is so unpopular. Each time some new event reveals how bad it is (fulfilling Pelosi's prophecy that passing the bill was the only way to find out what it contained), they can pass the repeal again. Then in 2012 the voters can expel every incumbent congresscritter who did not vote to repeal, or did not vote to override Obama's veto.

That loathsome law is loathed by a majority of the voters.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on November 3, 2010 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Tim H: I don't think losing the House at this point is a big deal. Dems got as much done as they could reasonably expect to. Did anyone really think they would hold House, Senate, and White House forever?

Forever? No. They only expected the Dems to hold on for at least a decade.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on November 3, 2010 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

But Steve... I thought that the healthcare "reform" program was just a starter house, and they were going to make it better over time? So how exactly are Obama & the teabagger caucus going to make this thing better?

I know, it is a trick question- the real answer is that there are probably a thousand things that the Republicans can do with just control of the house (and now a bunch more state legislatures) to make this turd stink more. By 2012, this thing will be even more of a boat anchor around Democrats neck- a great symbol of corrupt crony capitalism that Republicans will still be able to use to hammer Democrats with, even though they are the true masters of the corporate give-away...

Posted by: dinsdale on November 4, 2010 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Daryl Issa is just dying to launch House investigations of everything from ACORN to Joe Sestak's "job offer" to the New Black Panther Party.

Whatever else they thought they were voting for this time around, I suspect the last thing the electorate wants the Congress they elected to do is spend the next two years wasting its time on meaningless gestures like this. We can only hope that Daryl and company plunge ahead anyway. It will certainly help cement their majority.

Posted by: dweb on November 4, 2010 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

One of the most disgusting aspects of this was to see that lamebrain Boehner going straight back to the old Republican lies about health care.

For that idiot to say it will "bankrupt" America while defending the status quo is simply Orwellian.

And the forces of darkness can probably rely on snakes like Lieberman to help.

Bob Somerby tried to get a sensible discussion going about American health care and the rampant looting that was involved, but sadly he failed.

Bad luck for America.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on November 4, 2010 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

What do you think of the suggestion here -- http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/11/pelosi-no-regrets-no-decisions.php?ref=fpb. -- that the Repukes will hold hostage the bill to raise the debt ceiling until Obama agrees to sweeping changes to the HCR bill? Would the Repukes go that far? And if so, would it be permissible to start shooting them as the filthy traitors they are?

Posted by: Alan on November 4, 2010 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

You hope.

Posted by: rbe1 on November 4, 2010 at 5:12 AM | PERMALINK

That loathsome law is loathed by a majority of the voters.

I'm not sure "we will make sure your children with a pre-existing condition can't get insured" is a viable platform for the republicans to run on. But go try that one. That you consider the fact that insurers are forced to I sure people "loathsome" says not some-so-good things about you, but I already knew you had certain, shall we say, moral shortcomings.

Posted by: Tyro on November 4, 2010 at 6:05 AM | PERMALINK

The Right has been running against Social Security since the 1930s...and look at abortion. THe GOP don't necessarily need to make much progress towards an actual repeal to get their base riled up for 2012. Aside from a government shutdown, in this economic climate, what else can they do but score points, unless they take the Senate or the WH in 2012;

Posted by: DC on November 4, 2010 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Was doing a search for teens and came across your blog, interesting pics, definitely spent a few more hours here!

Posted by: filesonic porn on January 25, 2011 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK



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