Political Animal


May 18, 2012 1:00 PM Repeal and Reverse

By Ed Kilgore

When John Boehner put the word out this week that House Republicans would indeed have some sort of agenda to “replace” ObamaCare in the event the Supreme Court strikes it down or the GOP gains the power to repeal it, there were negative reactions from two directions: from skeptical progressives like yours truly who noted how ridiculously unfeasible it would be to reenact “the popular parts” of the law, and from conservatives horrified that any Republican would be talking about taking action on health reform.

You can guess which objection got the attention of House Republicans. Almost immediately, Paul Ryan suggested GOPers would offer nothing beyond a “vision” of the “market-based” system of their dreams. Meanwhile, Boehner hastened to reassure conservatives that they would jump up and down on the corpse of ObamaCare for an extended period of time before considering what if anything they’d do to replace it.

So is the “replace” in “repeal and replace” just a shuck? Absolutely, if by “replace” you mean restoring any ObamaCare provisions. Aside from the absurdity of pretending that it makes any sense at all to reenact popular provisions like banning exclusions on pre-existing conditions (and as Jonathan Cohn notes, Mitt Romney and other Republicans are not actually on board with that in the first place) as stand-alone provisions, why on earth would you repeal a reform in order to immediately reenact it? You wouldn’t, as a matter of fact, unless you had no intention of reenacting it in the first place.

But Republicans do have plans to “replace” ObamaCare with provisions that would be far worse than the status quo ante.

Best anyone can tell, the only post-ObamaCare actions we can count on Republicans to take involve the Ryan Budget’s attacks on Medicare and Medicaid, plus that “market-based vision” which essentially means pushing the whole country into the individual health insurance market and then encouraging insurance companies to discriminate to their heart’s content by allowing them to circumvent state regulation via interstate sales. From the point of view of the uninsured, and those paying exorbitant premiums for crappy coverage because they are sick, this “vision” is a reversal, not just a “repeal,” of the progress made under ObamaCare. Between the green light they want to give insurers to discriminate, the discouragement of group coverage through elimination of the employer tax subsidy, and the vast restriction of Medicaid eligibility the Ryan budget would force, we could be looking at a significant increase in the ranks of the uninsured. I don’t expect Republicans to brag about all that, but the truth is repealing ObamaCare is the least of the damage they are promising to inflict.

Progressives should spend a little less time mocking the empty promises of Republicans to only partially get rid of ObamaCare, and a lot more time explaining their ultimate designs on the health care system.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Mitt's Magic Underpants on May 18, 2012 1:10 PM:

    The liberal media will be sure the public knows the consequences of this, right? Right?

  • LL on May 18, 2012 1:24 PM:

    The consequences if the GOP did exactly what they say they want to do, would be to put those who don't have jobs on death-row (if they're under medicare age)..one bad medical problem and they're bankrupted, lose everything, and likely die, if the problem is bad enough.

    And those who have insurance with their jobs would be even more likely to stay "quiescent" demand nothing, work even harder for less money, and in general live in total fear that if they lose their job there is no way for them to have medical insurance that would help protect them.

    This is a GOP wet-dream: a totally quiescent labor market that will work for absurdly long hours for absurdly low wages. That is the result of their "vision." They all deserve to go to Hell for eternity.

  • c u n d gulag on May 18, 2012 1:51 PM:

    With or without REplace, if these REprobate REcidivists REpeal, then they need to REalize that we the people might REsort to REvisiting REbellion to REctify this situation, to REcover needed REform!

    We the people, need to realize that we need to REcall all REpublicans - NOW!!!
    And never REsort to RE-voting for them until they completely change.
    And then make sure they don't RElapse and REgress, and REturn to their REprobate REpublican ways!

  • Peter C on May 18, 2012 1:58 PM:

    All insurance-based health care models are horrible. They amount to 'pay for care upfront and in advance so that rich people can gamble with the money and *hopefully* be in business when you actually get sick and the doctor needs paying'. Every other civilized nation has proven that a system where 'we, as a society, pay medical professionals a generous amount to treat whoever among us gets sick' not only leads to a healthier society but also costs MUCH less. Such a system doesn't shovel money to the 1% for their own private gambling, though.

    @LL's description of the Republican healthcare dystopia is exactly right. They want to go back to 2007 so we can ride another roller-coaster caused by the rich having so much money that they can think of no better use for it than betting.

  • boatboy_srq on May 18, 2012 2:50 PM:

    Along with most comments, but especially @Peter C:

    One facet of the "American Exceptionalism" and "true Christian" aspects of the wingnuts is this: to the rest of the world, accessible, affordable healthcare is a human right. To these wingnuts, health itself is a "blessing from God" and is reserved for the Elect and Righteous among us - and the ill among us are just experiencing our Hell on Earth as a taste of what we'll (deservedly) get in the next life.

  • jim filyaw on May 18, 2012 5:01 PM:

    i hate to admit it, but damned if i'm not starting to believe that the country deserves ryan's "vision" for health care and all the rest of what he has in mind for the certifiable non-galt proles. you'd have to have the i.q. of an earthworm to have missed what the g.o.p. is all about. i can see it now, when he hands the finished bill repealing medicare to a beaming president willard. the follow-up press conference will be a lot of 'see--we told you socialism doesn't work!' it will be lapped by the main stream press morons like gregory. hell no, it doesn't work--not when you constantly throw in a monkey wrench.

  • giantslor on May 19, 2012 1:11 AM:

    More like Repeal and Regress.