Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

It’s Ba-a-ck! The Quixotic Crusade Against Obamacare Returns

When John A. Boehner flatly declared right after the elections that “Obamacare is the law of the land,” it sounded like a clear curtain-pulling on the Republican crusade to repeal or gut the health care overhaul. Getting the law off the books, or at least neutralizing it, was still on the party’s wish list, he said. But the president’s re-election and the diminished GOP congressional ranks had clearly rendered that  goal no longer worth the party’s time for pursuing.

Four months later, the speaker’s guidance is no longer operative. Republicans are going to mount attacks on the statute during both this week’s Senate debate on the appropriations package for the rest of this fiscal year, and next week’s House debate on a budget blueprint for the next fiscal year.

First of all, the spending bill coming before the Senate tonight looks very likely to match the companion the House passed last week in one surprising way — by denying a White House’s request for a special $949 million line-item to help the states ready their new medical insurance exchanges, which are supposed to be ready to enroll customers by October. Putting the money in would be a bloody shirt to the GOP.

Beyond that, a growing roster of tea party conservative senators, led by Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, are insisting they get a vote on the idea of preventing HHS from spending even the money it’s already got carrying out that law of the land.

Their amendment is sure to fail, not only because all 55 Democrats will oppose it but also because more than a few Republican mainstreamers really want to stop fighting the last war. But the roll call will put plenty of GOP senators — especially the ones worried about 2014 primary challenges on their right — in an awkward spot.

The same will be true for some politically vulnerable House Republicans when they’re called on to vote next week on the budget outline that Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin will formally unveil tonight after sketching it out on TV over the weekend. The once-and-future aspirant for national office faced a damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t predicament over how to handle Obamacare in his budget. Had he not assumed the law’s repeal as part of his calculus, dozens of his most conservative colleagues (and thousands of donors  and talk-radio callers on the right) would have of been infuriated at the symbolic capitulation.

But by assuming the law comes to an early end — knowing full well that’s not going to happen — Ryan is putting all of his GOP colleagues in a position of voting for a plan that’s supported by some serious smoke and mirrors, and applies its accounting legerdemain inconsistently, to boot.

The very real risk is that his budget can be credibly derided as something other than the serious document for serious times, which he and the rest of the House GOP have claimed in the past. His plan still assumes the $716 billion in Medicare savings that Obamacare would put into effect, which the Romney/Ryan ticket railed against so often last fall, and it also assumes the revenue promised by the January tax hikes, even though all Republicans would just as soon those were also repealed.

Beyond all that, the Budget chairman’s budget claims to reach a balance within 10 years, even without any new taxes and without the several hundred billions in savings that, by consensus view of the nonpartisan budget scorekeepers, Obamacare promises in the coming decade.

  • thevet

    What price are you willing to pay for Obamacare in terms of real medical care? Death panels? Years for routine things like hip replacements? Seeing Physician Assistants and Nurses instead of MDs/Specialists? It’s not about the money, it’s about quality of life – your entire life.

    • LivingLiberally

      How many people should have no access to medical coverage because Conservatives are more interested in protecting insurance companies than Americans? How many children are you willing to take coverage away from to ensure windfall profits for corporations? How many facts are you willing to ignore? Under the “free market” system championed by Conservatives American workers had to pay twice as much for medical care as other developed countries? How many people with pre-existing medical conditions should be saddled with a lifetime of crushing debt because they are not profitable for insurance companies? This is about quality of life – for all Americans, not just the 1%.

      • thevet

        Who said anything about “protecting insurance companies” or “windfall profits”? Those are DNC political talking points/propaganda in the furtherance of class warfare. Obamacare will NOT improve the health care for 99% of the population – it WILL lower the quality for 100% of the population. Which is what you really want. It’s called jealousy.

      • fustian24

        Yeah it costs more here because we’ve been doing the medical research for the world. I’ve experienced medical care overseas and it isn’t the same thing as you can get here.

        Also, all of these medical statistics are so bogus. Just look at birthrates. Some of these idiot countries Obamacare supporters keep turning to abuse statistics terribly. A child that lives for 10 seconds is counted as a successful birth. They do that because birthrate is such an important statistic in health care comparisons. We don’t do that and it artificially makes our health statistics look less impressive than they are.

        Obamacare isn’t about improving quality of life for all Americans. It’s about destroying the best medical care in the world for everybody.

        Why do so many people want to get their health care from the post office? It’s insane.

        And there is nothing magic about insurance companies and profits. Whether government takes this on, or whether they force insurance companies to do it, but covering poor sick people is going to be very expensive for the average tax payer. Especially for such an inefficient entity as the government. This means that less health care must be in all of our future.

        Ever wonder why the Soviet Union looks that way? This is why. It starts here.

  • csam

    Noooooooooooooooooo. Don’t change the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing as authored by David Hawkings that comes perfectly-timed for lunch-hour reading. It’s the single best thing my colleagues and I make any effort to read, in the best possible format, exactly as it was.

  • James A. Urner

    Leave a good thing alone. Current timing is excellent and I don’t want another bookmark.

  • disqus_yLiab9K5sz

    Ditto “Noooooooooooooooooooo” and “leave a good thing alone.” This change is distressing – requires more links and …………….Just put a good Hawkings Here in my in box every day.

  • d.lee

    Who exactly are these nonpartisan budget scorekeepers who say that Obamacare will save billions? and what are they smoking?

  • James A. Urner

    How come the Hawkings Here hasn’t been updated for a week plus??

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