said. “Obamacare is the law of the land.”In early November 2012, literally just two days after President Obama won a second term with relative ease, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested it was time to bring his party’s crusade to repeal the Affordable Care Act to a close. “It’s pretty clear that the president was re-elected,” the GOP leader
The comments made quite a bit of sense. Republicans had tried to bring down the ACA through the courts, and that failed. Republicans had tried to bring down the law through legislation, and that failed. Republicans had tried to bring down the law at the ballot box, and that failed. Boehner’s desire to simply move on was understandable – he and his party had given it their best shot and came up short.
The Speaker’s brief flirtation with reality, we know in hindsight, didn’t last, and the GOP’s repeal crusade was renewed soon after. Three years later, however, after losing a Supreme Court case they were certain they’d win, maybe now Republicans are prepared to move on and stop trying to take families’ benefits away?
Of course not. The conservative Washington Examiner reported yesterday on Boehner’s familiar posture.
“Obamacare is fundamentally broken, increasing healthcare costs for millions of Americans. Today’s ruling doesn’t change that fact,” Boehner said. “Republicans will continue to listen to American families and work to protect them from the consequences of Obamacare.”“And we will continue our efforts to repeal the law and replace it with patient-centered solutions that meet the needs of seniors, small business owners, and middle-class families,” he said.
As a substantive matter, Boehner’s stale talking points are impossible to take seriously. As a political matter, the notion that the Speaker believes the public is clamoring for repeal is demonstrably false.
But the broader takeaway is more important: even now, despite a lengthy series of Republican debacles, despite the painfully obvious ACA successes, despite unambiguous court rulings, the GOP dream of dismantling the American health care system simply will not die.
At least, that is, for most of the party.
Politico published a piece yesterday quoting quite a few Capitol Hill Republicans, many of whom remain desperate to destroy the reform law, though the intra-party unanimity is fading. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), for example, said, “Perhaps it’s time to move on from this particular topic.”
Yesterday’s developments also come against the backdrop of a presidential campaign, with a massive field of GOP candidates tripping over each other to express their bitter disappointment over the high court ruling.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for example, issued a statement filled with predictable palaver – “judicial activism” makes an appearance – but stressed that any Republican presidential candidate who isn’t committed to a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act should drop out of the race immediately.
Around the same time, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said of yesterday’s ruling, “It means that the most significant domestic issue in 2016, at every House race, in every Senate race and for president will be centered around whether or not the country wants to keep Obamacare.”
In case it’s not obvious, the problem with Graham’s pronouncement is its familiarity – Republicans used identical language three years ago, insisting “Obamacare” would be the most significant domestic issue in 2012 in every federal election in the nation. and American voters would have to decide whether or not to keep the ACA.
And then Democrats won, at which point Republicans decided “Obamacare” would be the most significant domestic issue in 2016. And if Dems win again, one gets the distinct impression that Republicans will announce that “Obamacare” will be the most significant domestic issue in 2020.
It’s just pitiful. The sooner Republicans accept reality, recognize the fact that the law is both legal and effective, and become obsessed with some other issue, the better it will be for everyone.