Despite months of assurances that the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act is on the way, any day now, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) recently told
his constituents what many have long suspected: "For the next six months, we're going to go into an election knowing that we're not going to do anything to address health care."
But even on this basic point, GOP officials are divided, with many House Republicans still convinced they can put together a conservative "Obamacare" alternative. In fact, David Drucker reports
that the 35-member House Obamacare Accountability Project -- honestly, that's what it's called -- is still plugging away.
[The] working group of about 35 GOP members, has written a "draft" proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to one House Republican familiar with the effort. But the group has not shared the draft with their colleagues and is engaged in an internal debate over whether their goal should be to simply introduce legislation, or also hold floor votes. The distinction is important. Rank-and-file Republicans are more likely to haggle over policy and face pressure from conservative groups if they have to vote on the proposal. Achieving consensus likely would be easier if the legislation is treated as a broad agenda to be tackled after the midterm elections.
This probably wasn't intended to be funny, but I found it amusing anyway.
In effect, House Republicans are finding that policymaking is easier for those who don't intend to actually create policy.
That's true, I suppose, those it doesn't help Republicans shake their reputation as a post-policy party.
In effect, today's report suggests House GOP officials are weighing the possibility of creating an alternative they have no intention of actually voting on. That way, the intra-party negotiations will be easier -- Republicans seeking compromise solutions with other Republicans can take comfort in the fact that their ideas won't actually become public policy, at least not anytime soon.
It's hard not to wonder, of course, why they'd bother to introduce a proposal they don't plan to vote on, but the answer is apparently straightforward: it would allow Republicans to say they have a health care plan, a nagging detail they haven't been able to say for the last several years. Whether the plan would ever reach the floor is not as important as the rhetorical posturing.
Maybe they'll actually come up with something eventually, though I'm reminded of what a Republican Hill staffer recently told
He said devising an alternative is fraught with the difficulty of crafting a new benefits structure that doesn't look like the Affordable Care Act. "If you want to say the further and further this gets down the road, the harder and harder it gets to repeal, that's absolutely true," the aide said. "As far as repeal and replace goes, the problem with replace is that if you really want people to have these new benefits, it looks a hell of a lot like the Affordable Care Act.... To make something like that work, you have to move in the direction of the ACA."