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April 29, 2014 4:40 PM Obamacare Without Obama

By Ed Kilgore

It’s been evident for a good while that the abstraction called “Obamacare” was a lot less popular than its actual components. That has, of course, been a problem for Republicans who spend a remarkable amount of time swearing to each other than they will someday repeal every single line, without, somehow, (a) returning to the status quo ante, or (b) agreeing on some sort of replacement.

But as Ezra Klein notes today at Vox, there’s a way around this dilemma that requires only a politician as dishonest as Scott Brown:

Scott Brown, who’s now running for Senate in New Hampshire, has found the perfect position on Obamacare. He’s for it. He’s just not for calling it Obamacare.
In an interview with WBUR, he called Obamacare a “disaster.” Then he was asked what he’s for  — and he went on to describe Obamacare.
“I’ve always felt that people should either get some type of health care options, or pay for it with a nice competitive fee,” he said. “That’s all great. I believe it in my heart. In terms of preexisting conditions, catastrophic coverages, covering kids, whatever we want to do.” He even said it could “include the Medicaid expansion [for] folks who need that care and coverage.”
Oh, he also promises his plan won’t raise taxes, cut spending on Medicare, or make people drive very far to go to the hospital. So his plan will have more generous insurance options and no way to pay for them. In other words, his plan will be like Obamacare, but even better! Call it Fauxbamacare.
Brown is picking up on a real opportunity here. The polls around Obamacare are frustrating both to the law’s principled supporters and its principled opponents. There is, in theory at least, a huge opening for an unprincipled opponent — someone who opposes “Obamacare”, but supports virtually all of the policies in Obamacare.

Now Brown, aside from a lack of principles, does have the luxury of being a long-shot Senate challenger with no serious primary opponents in a relatively liberal state. But even in more fervently conservative precincts, Republicans are usually pretty quick to claim they’ve got their own “solutions” for problems like preexisting condition exclusions or inadequate insurance choices—and they do, matter of fact; they’re just really crappy “solutions” that may be worse than the problems. The more “principled” Republicans, however, have a harder time than Brown in hiding the fact that they think the real problem is that people aren’t paying enough medical expenses out-of-pocket, or that this nefarious idea of “insurance” is kinda socialistic to begin with. And that’s why the whole “repeal and replace” message may not have a shelf life beyond this coming November. Eventually, voters will catch on.

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.

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