So much for ‘repeal and replace’

Two years later, this has been neither repealed nor replaced.
Two years later, this has been neither repealed nor replaced.
White House photo

Shortly after the Affordable Care Act became law two years ago, congressional Republicans adopted a simple, three-word, poll-tested phrase: “repeal and replace.” The GOP would repeal the moderate reform law, which is based on a model Republicans used to support, and replace it with something new.

Whatever happened to that? It’s a funny story, actually.

The “replace” part of the slogan is clearly in trouble. Fourteen months after Republicans took over the House, GOP legislation to reform the nation’s health care system is nowhere to be found. There have been no plans circulated, no hearings scheduled, nothing. It’s almost as if Republicans weren’t sincere about following through on their promises to reform the old, dysfunctional health care system.

What about the “repeal” part of the phrase? That’s not going well, either. Just last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told his caucus “that he does not want to vote again on repealing President Obama’s healthcare reform law until after the November elections.”

This apparently isn’t going over well with some on the right.

Senate Republicans are clashing with conservative groups over whether to hold votes this year to repeal all of President Obama’s healthcare reform law.

One group, the Restore America’s Voice Foundation, plans to spend $50,000 to $100,000 per week on television ads pressing Senate Republicans to force a vote on repeal… Last week, [Restore America’s Voice chairman Ken Hoagland] said McConnell should resign as leader if he did not pledge to force a vote on a full repeal of the healthcare law.

An official at the Club for Growth said, “We should have a vote on repealing ObamaCare every week.” Someone at the Heritage Foundation went a step further, pushing “votes every day on repealing ObamaCare.”

These folks are likely to remain frustrated. For one thing, repeal can’t pass. For another, a vote for repeal is a vote for higher taxes on small businesses, higher prescription drug prices for seniors, fewer protections for consumers, a larger deficit, and taking health care coverage away from millions of Americans. It’s not exactly a smart election-year move.

While we’re at it, Joan McCarter reminds us that the latest polling shows most Americans opposed to total repeal anyway.

What’s more, even having a debate over this brings up an inconvenient issue for the Republican Party: its likely presidential nominee created a reform law in his state that’s practically identical to Obama’s plan and was crafted by the same policy experts. The more GOP lawmakers push a repeal fight that can’t pass anyway, the more Democrats get to remind everyone about Romney’s record.

The right doesn’t have to like it, but “repeal and replace” appears to have been rebuffed and rejected.

So much for 'repeal and replace'