They threw everything they had at it. Desperate to destroy the Affordable Care Act, Republican policymakers tried misinformation campaigns; they tried sabotage; and they tried repeal. The campaign did not, however, derail the law, the success of which is becoming increasingly obvious.
The next question is whether GOP officials actually care.
At his press conference yesterday, President Obama not only touted the new enrollment totals – 8 million American consumers enrolled through exchange marketplaces during the open-enrollment period – he also urged Republicans to end their preoccupation with the issue.
“I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been: they still can’t bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working.“They said nobody would sign up. They were wrong about that. They said it would be unaffordable for the country. They were wrong about that. They were wrong to keep trying to repeal a law that is working when they have no alternative answer for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions who would be denied coverage again, or every woman who would be charged more for just being a woman again.“I know every American isn’t going to agree with this law, but I think we can agree that it’s well past time to move on as a country and refocus our energy on the issues that the American people are most concerned about, and that continues to be the economy, because these endless, fruitless repeal efforts come at a cost. The 50 or so votes Republicans have taken to repeal this law could have been 50 votes to create jobs.”
In all, during a fairly brief press conference, Obama used the phrase “move on” four times in reference to Republicans and the ACA.
And before the press conference was even over, the National Republican Congressional Committee declared, in response to the president’s call to move on, “No, we can’t.”
And on the surface, congressional Republicans certainly seem to mean it. As the health care system grows stronger, GOP lawmakers are descending deeper into denial, conspiracy theories, and fairly transparent con jobs. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Republican leaders are committed to near-constant Obamacare bashing for the rest of the year, regardless of facts that may try to get in the way.
The stubbornness might be impressive if we weren’t talking about a group of policymakers desperately trying to take health care benefits away from millions of American families for no particular reason.
But there are cracks in the facade. For all the bravado and chest-thumping about how they will never, ever, ever stop trying to destroy health care reform, Republicans are not a united front.
GOP voters, for example, who were absolutely convinced a few months ago that the Affordable Care Act would make their lives and their family’s lives worse in the long run, have started to change their minds. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which arguably helps represent the perspective of the Republican establishment better than anything else in American media, argued last week that repeal isn’t on the horizon and “rooting for voters to be harmed is not a helpful electoral coping strategy.”
We also learned last week that House Republicans quietly agreed to a minor ACA technical fix – something GOP lawmakers were not willing to even consider up until very recently.
And on the campaign trail, plenty of Republicans are afraid to give an opinion on Medicaid expansion and have started endorsing the ACA’s broader policy goals.
The point is, the bluster is loud, but it’s also shallow. GOP leaders seem to enjoy the posturing, but plenty of their cohorts are slowly coming to the realization that they’ve lost.