Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 18, 2011

GOP ADVANCING HEALTH CARE REPEAL WITHOUT ITS FRIENDS.... After a week-long break, House Republicans will get back to work today, renewing their admittedly-pointless effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The vote, which will likely come tomorrow, isn't hard to predict -- the House will easily approve the repeal measure -- but even supporters know the bill will promptly fade into oblivion soon after.

What's more interesting is how little Republicans' ostensible allies are doing to give them a hand. (thanks to reader V.S. for the tip)

The health care industry's biggest trade groups have remained uncharacteristically neutral on the Republican effort to repeal the health care reform law, choosing instead to save their political capital for smaller, more targeted changes that have a chance at becoming law.

America's Health Insurance Plans lobbied against much of the health care overhaul when it was passed in Congress, but it is not supporting the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. The heads of Aetna and Cigna, members of AHIP, have publicly said they do not support efforts to repeal the law. [...]

The pharmaceutical industry, which spent months cutting deals with Democrats to protect its interests, has remained mum on Republican repeal efforts.

Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a leading opponent of the Democratic reform law, is on record formally supporting the Republican repeal bill, but isn't at all interested in investing any time or energy into the GOP push.

To be sure, the Chamber, AHIP, and like-minded powerhouses haven't suddenly grown fond of the Affordable Care Act. Rather, they're ignoring the House Republican's effort because they see it as a vanity exercise -- the new GOP House majority is just going through the motions, hoping to satisfy, at least temporarily, far-right activists who don't seem to understand what it is they don't like about the health care law anyway.

Powerful opponents of the Affordable Care Act may have deeply flawed priorities, but they're not stupid, and they'll gladly wait for meaningful policy measures before getting in the game in earnest.

In the meantime, Democrats and reform supporters on the left don't seem to mind this week's repeal effort at all. Proponents see it as an opportunity to remind the public about the ACA's popular benefits, while Dems are quietly looking forward to crafting campaign ads in 2012, pointing House Republicans voting for forcing vulnerable seniors to pay thousands of additional out-of-pocket dollars for their medication, allowing insurers to discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions, raising taxes on small businesses, forcing young people off their family's insurance plan, etc.

For their part, GOP leaders also realize that their "repeal and replace" strategy is only focused on the former, not the latter. As Joan McCarter noted, Republican lawmakers, senior aides, and conservative health policy specialists all agree that the party has "not distilled their ideas into a coherent plan." The strategy, such as it is, is limited to gutting reform, returning the law to the old status quo, and then figuring something out later.

There's a reason Dems don't seem to be approaching this week with any dread at all.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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"There's a reason Dems don't seem to be approaching this week with any dread at all."

And yet we do not see Obama, or Biden for that matter, out in front on this in the Media. It's one of the weakest arenas that the Dems consistently fail to capitalize on. It's painful to watch them continually miss opportunities to place focus to the public on glaring GOP stupidity.

Posted by: stevio on January 18, 2011 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

. . . the new GOP House majority is just going through the motions, hoping to satisfy, at least temporarily, far-right activists who don't seem to understand what it is they don't like about the health care law anyway.

The Teabaggers understand exactly what they're opposed to:

They don't like that Obama nationalized the country's health care system.

Oh, wait . . . .

They don't like that HCR sets up death panels that will decide when it's time to euthanize grandma.

Oh, wait . . . .

They don't like that HCR will diminish the best health care system in the world.

Oh, wait . . . .

(In the interest of the new "civility, I was going to refrain from calling them 'Teabaggers' until the next time they compared Obama to Nazis, but it's too late already.)

Posted by: SteveT on January 18, 2011 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Did anyone see Keith last night? after all the bluster about cutting spending from Cantor and Boehner, there was a very meek Cantor saying they were not really in charge of spending, Boehner seems to be in hiding.Then on Rachel - details of 78 billion in wasteful spending the pentagon wanted to cut - Boehner and Cantor have both taken big money from those corps to keep the spending on things that are not wanted and not needed.

Posted by: js on January 18, 2011 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Huffington Post has a great link that shows repubs being responsible for most of the national debt.

Posted by: joan on January 18, 2011 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

I'm beginning to think that this will be the only thing to pass the house this year. Not really, but the right is terribly, and atypically, un-unified.

If it plays out like that, they will give new meaning to "Do-nothing Congress".

What does pass is likely to piss off one part of the right, or another, since they're hyperbolic (Yet scattershot) rhetoric has set themselves up for some serious intra-party fighting.

Posted by: bignose on January 18, 2011 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

I would hope that Democrats can use the health care repeal vote as a bludgeon on Republicans when they run again in 2012. It could be an effective wedge issue - splitting mainstream America from the conservative zealots.

I am hoping that Dems are holding back their defense of the health car law until the GOP casts their votes, getting them on record, and then let them squirm as they try to defend the vote later.

Posted by: tomb on January 18, 2011 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Dems are quietly looking forward to crafting campaign ads in 2012, pointing House Republicans voting for forcing vulnerable seniors to pay thousands of additional out-of-pocket dollars for their medication, allowing insurers to discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions, raising taxes on small businesses, forcing young people off their family's insurance plan, etc.

Right, the same way Democrats used the Republicans' opposition to the actual ACA bill against them last November.

It would be great if Democrats suddenly realized that this is a winning message, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Posted by: Basilisc on January 18, 2011 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

And yet we do not see Obama, or Biden for that matter, out in front on this in the Media.

Good. As the old maxim goes, never interrupt your opponents while they're in the process of making a mistake.

Posted by: Gregory on January 18, 2011 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

One republican on TV this morning said that the next president would make his first act a signing of the health care repeal bill, proudly on the steps of the White House.

Posted by: js on January 18, 2011 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

One republican on TV this morning said that the next president would make his first act a signing of the health care repeal bill, proudly on the steps of the White House.
Posted by: js on January 18, 2011 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK
*************************
On Republican TV this morning one said that the next president would make his first act a signing of the health care repeal bill, proudly on the steps of the White House.

----- There, fixed it. --------

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on January 18, 2011 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Dolts, stooging for the insurance industry, and the military-industrial complex!

Just see how these false-deficit-concerned Republicans react to cutting where we can, military spending! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 18, 2011 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Business lobbyists aren't suddenly displaying some tacit approval of HCR. They understand some battles are hopeless, and repeal is hopeless. It's a sop to the extremist fringe.

The real battles will come when the GOP offers bills to kill/rework parts of the reform package. Then you'll see the healthcare companies battling.

Posted by: JEA on January 18, 2011 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

"America's Health Insurance Plans lobbied against much of the health care overhaul when it was passed in Congress, but it is not supporting the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act."

Why would they? They've just been handed 50 million new policyholders who HAVE to buy from them or face penalties.

"Republican lawmakers, senior aides, and conservative health policy specialists all agree that the party has 'not distilled their ideas into a coherent plan.'"

Sure they do. They have Paul Ryan's abomination, which in the absence of an official position, serves to represent the GOP approach to healthcare. Dems should make the GOP own his plan until they affirmatively disown it or come up with something else.

Posted by: bdop4 on January 18, 2011 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

"a vanity exercise"

That's a great term for the new House agenda. But, apparently you've missed the new GOP bipartisan tone-down-the-rhetoric conciliatory change. It's no longer

"Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law bill"

In the spirit of nonviolent comity, they've retitled it

"Repealing the Job-DESTROYING Health Care Law bill"

When passed by both houses and signed by President Obama, it will be the

"Repealing the Job-destroying Health Care Law Law"
Posted by: zandru on January 18, 2011 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

TACKEY TACKEY TACKEY wasting time and money on something that will not wash. But the R's are not known for common sense logic, or simply being practical.

Posted by: Ted76 on January 18, 2011 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

You have a good point basilisc, and it would be nice if the Democrats had aggressively defended the PPACA before the election.

However, there are two big differences that make me hopeful they will follow through on the efforst some of them are making to turn this debate around.

First, they tried downplaying it last fall and the strategy backfired on them.

Second, some very popular elements of the bill have now been implemented.

Posted by: tanstaalf on January 18, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Holding the vote a week before the SOTU is an unexpected gift for the President.

Posted by: bcinaz on January 18, 2011 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

New Republican motto:

Devoting our lives to undoing the difficult work accomplished by others that we ourselves were unwilling to accomplish.

Posted by: Skip on January 18, 2011 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

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