Despite efforts by Senate Democrats to severely restrict the use of the filibuster, it seems as though they will use any tactic, including the filibuster, to see that the effort to repeal Obamacare never makes it to this president’s desk. It’s clear that House Republicans’ repeal efforts are just the first step in a long process. Republicans and conservatives understand and accept this, which is why a strategic plan is needed.
Right after the repeal vote, the House will vote on a separate resolution that would take steps toward creating an alternative Republican health care plan, one hopefully based on free-market principles. The resolution calls on four key committees to create healthcare legislation that addresses 12 different goals, to “lower health-care premiums through increased competition and choice,” “increase the number of insured Americans,” “protect the doctor-patient relationship,” and “prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions and provide conscience protections of key healthcare providers,” for example. These and others are important reforms Obamacare purported to address but didn’t.
In fact, given what we’ve learned about the law since we had former Speaker Pelosi’s advice to pass the law so we can see what’s in it jammed down our throats, a clear majority of Americans support its repeal. You might say that the greatest accomplishment of Obamacare is to unify the majority of Americans behind the concept of health care reform — reform in the form of repeal.
No matter the evidence, consequence or public sentiment, the vast majority of Democrats and the White House want no part of repeal. For people who use the word “democracy” so freely with feigned conviction, they sure don’t give a damn about it when it conflicts with their wants.
We are already seeing the effects of Obamacare. Insurance premiums are skyrocketing. Hospital construction is being cancelled. Late-stage breast cancer patients are being denied the drugs they need to survive. Hundreds of companies and unions have asked for waivers to exempt themselves from the legislation and states like Maine and Oregon would like an out too. You’d think a political party that spends the majority of its time preaching about the “will of the people” might listen to it every once in a while, especially when it was so unambiguously expressed at the ballot box in November, but no.
While it may seem impossible to repeal an entitlement — recall the old Reagan quote about the closest thing to eternal life on Earth being a government program — it has happened before…once.
In 1988, Congress passed and the president signed the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, which was, amongst other things, billed as providing prescription drug coverage for Medicare patients. While celebrated at the time as a major accomplishment for seniors, it was repealed the next year. Turns out seniors didn’t like it because it would cost them more out of pocket. Then, like today, Congress was reluctant to repeal its “accomplishment,” but seniors, who vote at a higher rate than the rest of the population, were having none of it. They came to Washington to make their opinions heard, even jumping on the hood of the car of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski as he tried to get away from their chants.
That was the World War II generation; we are now dealing with baby boomers. While the WWII seniors spent their lives fighting socialists and communists, the baby boomers spent their lives ignoring the failures of those philosophies, so expecting them to step up is a long-shot. That is why this Congress is so important. The rest of us, the non-60s hippies and 70s “me” participants, those who will be stuck with the check, need to speak up to give cover to our representatives as they fight to do what is necessary.