Health care change that won’t happenRepublican leaders are pedaling news cycles at top speed, spreading the word about how, after capturing the House and maybe the Senate in November, they will quickly undo President Obama’s health care reform.
By: Martin Schram, The Dickinson Press
Republican leaders are pedaling news cycles at top speed, spreading the word about how, after capturing the House and maybe the Senate in November, they will quickly undo President Obama’s health care reform.
They’d prefer to repeal the whole kit and caboodle with a single stroke, of course. But since that will be unlikely, they are vowing to dismantle it by unfunding it, one caboodle at a time.
“They’ll get not one dime from us,” the often-brazen and always-bronzed man who would be speaker, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, proclaimed to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Not a dime. There is no fixing this.”
So, you must be wondering what will happen to health care in 2011 if Republicans capture the House and perhaps the Senate in 2010.
Here’s your answer: Nothing.
Let me repeat that for you:
Here’s why: While Republicans are planning to undo Obama’s health care, their main goal is to defeat Obama in 2012. And Republicans will be way too smart to endanger — no, make that explode — their excellent 2012 prospects by repeating Newt Gingrich’s Folly of 1995. Yes, when he shut down the federal government in a burst of anti-Washington pandering but wound up looking like he’d celebrated victory by sticking an exploding cigar in his yap and triumphantly lighting it.
Here, step by step, is how the hardball health care politics will play out if Republicans achieve their grandest hope, capture not only the House but (let’s say) even the Senate in November. Because Republicans still won’t control two-thirds in the House and Senate needed to override presidential vetoes, Obama can veto any repeal of health care. So the GOP will move to Plan B and begin dismantling Obama’s health care reforms by withholding funds for administering each of them, one by one. The New York Times led Tuesday’s paper with a report outlining plans GOP leaders are circulating.
Among them: Eliminating Internal Revenue Service funds for collecting tax penalties on employers who fail to offer health care insurance to employees. Republicans could attach that and other reform-blocking limitations to appropriations bills. But Obama could then veto the appropriations bills — and counter by asking Congress to enact a continuing resolution so the federal government can continue functioning.
Then Republicans would face a fatal choice: back down (so the government can function) or shut down the government.
Does that seem somewhat familiar? It’s a rerun of the classic 1995 flick in which, after Republicans captured the House in 1994, new Speaker Gingrich, fired up anti-Washington flames that always seemed to work with voters and shut down the government. But lo, Americans discovered that when government stopped, their Social Security checks and other benefits didn’t arrive in their mailboxes. Who knew you couldn’t put out a fire by spraying kerosene? The new Gingrich/GOP firestorm ignited an anti-GOP backfire that saved President Clinton’s once-dire prospects — just in time for him to win reelection.
Note to Obamaphiles: Don’t hold your breath awaiting a rerun of that flick. Boehner, while more thin-skinned (and certainly more salon-tanned) than Gingrich, is way too smart to repeat Gingrich’s folly.
So 2011 will not become known for the premature end of ObamaCare. But it will become known for expanding the old politics of hate, pushing both parties toward their right and left poles, in a prelude to a 2012 presidential campaign that will be one of the ugliest ever.
Bipartisanship will be as obsolete as the buggy-whip. And speaking of whips, while the Democrats’ health care program will survive in 2011, most Americans will not yet benefit from its central provisions. And Republicans will assure that Obama’s reforms are duly disrespected and unevenly enforced.
Thus, health care reforms will be perceived as having the whip-cracking authority of a lashing with a federal wet noodle. Employers and individuals, encouraged to complain by the GOP, will look for ways to evade rather than comply.
And Obama will be forced to campaign for reelection by forever having to explain and justify reforms he once believed would be his historic presidential centerpiece.
Schram writes political analysis for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.