Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 3, 2011

SENATE KILLS HEALTH CARE REPEAL EFFORT.... We knew a month ago exactly how this would play out. The Republican majority in the House would vote to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act; the measure would move to the Senate where it would die.

And wouldn't you know it, all the relevant players went through the motions, and the Kabuki dance came to a predictable end late yesterday afternoon.

Senate Democrats on Wednesday defeated a bid by Republicans to repeal last year's sweeping health care overhaul, as they successfully mounted a party-line defense of President Obama's signature domestic policy achievement.

Challenges to the law will continue, however, on Capitol Hill and in the courts, with the United States Supreme Court ultimately expected to decide if the law is constitutional.

The only meaningful question was whether any members would break party ranks. None did -- Republicans needed 60 votes, and came up with 47, all from the GOP caucus.

What we're left with is a wasted month in which Republicans, instead of working on meaningful legislation or efforts to improve the economy, made their party's base feel good about itself. Had the repeal measure passed the consequences would have been severe -- higher deficits, higher taxes on small businesses, higher costs for consumers, higher rates of uninsured -- but Republicans did it anyway, in large part because they had the luxury of consequence-free posturing. They knew from the outset that families wouldn't actually suffer from this stunt because the crusade would inevitably fail.

GOP lawmakers, in other words, had the best of both worlds -- they could try to gut the system and screw over millions (which makes the base happy), knowing all the while that they were only putting on a show (which makes families who need the benefits happy). It was a ridiculous charade, an insult to the political process, and a reminder that the GOP is in desperate need of grown-ups, but in the end, the stunt served its intended, shallow purposes.

This little vanity exercise was also a reminder of just how little seriousness Republicans bring to their policy work. Like their House counterparts, the Senate GOP spent the day making up numbers, condemning the CBO, and repeating long-discredited attacks, but what they never got around to doing was explaining how they might want to improve the old, dysfunctional health care system. Not one Republican lawmaker this month has spent time presenting a credible alternative or talking about how they might try to help people who need it.

They love tearing down; they loathe building up.

With yesterday's vote, every Republican in the Senate effectively told American families, "We'll gut the health care system now, and maybe figure something else out later. In the meantime, good luck -- and don't get sick." Those who find this compelling probably aren't paying close enough attention.

Repeal would have real-world consequences that would hurt millions of families. Seniors would pay more for prescription medication. Children with pre-existing conditions would lose their protections. Young adults would be kicked off their family's plan. Small businesses would lose their tax breaks. Untold numbers of Americans would lose their homes, savings, businesses, and quite possibly their lives, simply because they got sick.

Fortunately, the legislative repeal effort failed yesterday. Good riddance.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Comments

And if anyone thinks they are going to now work on jobs, I will bet they will be sorely disappointed,
I am sure they will find some completely
irrational subject to spend days on, effectively doing nothing at all.Most likely they will find another Obama initiative to destroy.

Posted by: j on February 3, 2011 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

"They love tearing down; they loathe building up."

That's because, at heart, they are anarchists and nihilists, not architects;
the wrecking ball, not the construction crane.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 3, 2011 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Dante fittingly reserved the ninth ring of his hell for those who betray. These republicans will have plenty of company that they will recognize...

Posted by: stevio on February 3, 2011 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Well balanced and conspicuously well written views Mr Benen . A +

Posted by: FRP on February 3, 2011 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

So with all that out of the way the constitutional conservatives can get busy with their seance with the founders to restore the constitution as they...er..the ghosts of the founders saw it.

Posted by: the seal on February 3, 2011 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

stevio , Dante's Inferno was basically a gossip fest with digs for lifelong enemies , so yes in whole a heaven for Republicans .
There was a small love story too , for the non Republican audience .

Posted by: FRP on February 3, 2011 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

"We'll gut the health care system now, and maybe figure something else out later. In the meantime, good luck -- and don't get sick."

If you do get sick, die quickly.

Posted by: Winkandanod on February 3, 2011 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP health plan was already developed 2300 years ago, by Plato:

"When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough and ready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife, --these are his remedies.

And if some one prescribes for him a course of dietetics, and tells him that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, he replies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no good in a life which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of his customary employment; and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort of physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives and does his business, or, if his constitution falls, he dies and has no more trouble. "

(Plato, The Republic, Book III)

Posted by: wvmcl on February 3, 2011 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

And now Republicans turn their lonely eyes towards another stunning case of judicial activism to get what they want. It doesn't matter if they shriek about it all the time because IOKIYAR.

Posted by: John S. on February 3, 2011 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

"They love tearing down; they loathe building up."
Reminds me of a LBJ quote: "Any ole mule can kick down a barn door, but it takes a carpenter to build one".

Posted by: Walt on February 3, 2011 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Not one Republican lawmaker this month has spent time presenting a credible alternative or talking about how they might try to help people who need it.************************************

And yet, many of those who will benefit the most from NO repeal will continue to vote for the GOP ( Greed Over People).

The GOP party wants the status quo.
What more
Is there to know?
It makes them money.
It lines there pockets with hay.
The rich and powerful improve their odds
of staying that way.

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on February 3, 2011 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Challenges to the law will continue, however, on Capitol Hill and in the courts, with the United States Supreme Court ultimately expected to decide if the law is constitutional.

And, given that this is, almost w/o question, among the most activist Supreme Courts in US history, I'd give them about a 50/50 chance of them finding the ACA unconstitutional.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on February 3, 2011 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, but now Republicans have Democrats on the record as unwilling to repeal... the law those same Democrats enacted a year and a half ago.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on February 3, 2011 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

NOW, if we can just scuttle Jan Brewer's effort in Arizona to cut 280,000 people from Medicaid. She is reported to be only saving married people with kids. I spoke to another of my friends last night and she is divorced and on AHCCCS ( AZ's version of Medicaid ) so when Jan Brewer cuts all those people off health insurance she will be one of them.

My other opinion is since Jan and the Republicans do not care whether they lose the federal funding associated with Medicaid... They may just go ahead and cut funding anyways even if the Federal Government says they should not. So what then? Nobody knows... but surely there must be some theorists out there.

Also, please do not forget to support the recall of AZ Senate Preaident Russell Pearce author of the draconian SB1070 anti-undocumented worker legislation. And behind the efforts to create two classes of kids born in the US, the 14th amendment notwithstanding.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on February 3, 2011 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

While the spokes of government decide whether or not Americans should be entitled to health care, we're going to have to look for ways to stretch our health care dollars. Hopefully, it doesn't come down to this:

Video Link

Posted by: bondwooley on February 3, 2011 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

but,, but ... butt - vouchers! tax credits! tax cuts! individual rights! more vouchers! we are turning into europeans!

you mean that is not a coherent policy??

t

Posted by: bigtuna on February 3, 2011 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

a wasted month in which Republicans, instead of working on meaningful legislation or efforts to improve the economy, made their party's base feel good about itself

If only I believed it were intended to make their base feel good about itself... Instead, I think these moves are intended to keep their base riled up and angry at the supreme unfairness of the Democrats holding both the Senate and the White House. Whatever happens to Democrats and their sympathizers is therefore their own fault.

Posted by: DrGail on February 3, 2011 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

So much for the Republican line that many Dems would join them in their repeal effort.


Posted by: Joe Friday on February 3, 2011 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Why exactly does the Senate vote on this when the Republicans want? How many judges got confirmed in exchange for this healthcare vote? Zero? Who's running this joint?

Posted by: MCD on February 3, 2011 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Why exactly does the Senate vote on this when the Republicans want? How many judges got confirmed in exchange for this healthcare vote?

Why indeed? I'm hopeful that Democrats allowed the vote so they could use Republican's voting records against them in the next election. Hopeful, but not optimistic.

Posted by: jeri on February 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

He received hell for saying it, but all this reminds me of former Rep. Grayson's quote about the GOP health care plan:

"Don't get sick, but if you do, die quickly."

Posted by: oddjob on February 3, 2011 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

"They love tearing down; they loathe building up."


Back in the day, there was a speaker of the House who was a grownup and here is his relevant quote:

"Any jackass can knock down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one."
- Sam Rayburn

Posted by: oddjob on February 3, 2011 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

The repeal of the bill as a whole would really have detrimental consequences for the country. There definitely are very good provisions that you mention in the article and especially the repeal of the provision saying that nobody can be denied health insurance based on a pre-existing condition would cause a lot of problems to people diagnosed with serious medical conditions.

Posted by: Julie Kinnear on February 5, 2011 at 7:34 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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