It is downright amazing that the most momentous, and contemptible, piece of legislation Washington has seen in the last 50 years passed without tempting one Republican in the entire Congress to cross the aisle and join in. History will forever recall that Obamacare, in all its budget-busting and government-expanding glory, is entirely a creation of the Democrats, from the secret meetings where all 2,700 pages were drafted, to its final passage. And the GOP stayed unified throughout; not a single cat was lost in the herd!
With Democrats cloaked in Obamacare like Rod Blagojevich in prison orange and the law gaining in unpopularity by the day, is it any wonder they are starting to buckle on this issue? And why shouldn’t they? In the 2010 midterm elections they lost more than a quarter of their caucus in the House, in large part due to public opposition to Obamacare. Much of that opposition came from seniors, who, while only 13% of the voting public, comprised 23% of the midterm electorate. Liberal Democrats like Barney Frank, Fortney “Pete” Stark and even Allyson Schwartz, a member of the House Democratic leadership, are part of a small but growing group of Democrat survivalists joining the GOP and voicing opposition to specific tentacles of the new law.
This is why I am so puzzled, even miffed, by the recent public opposition of conservative Don Corleones like Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. Steve King to the Republican-led charge to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the 15-member panel of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who will be given carte blanche to ration care by their unilateral decisions. Yes, I know, Congress has the “final say,” if you can imagine two-thirds of Congress agreeing on anything. A bill to repeal IPAB recently passed Chairman Fred Upton’s Energy and Commerce Committee and currently has 20 Democrats as co-sponsors, including the three noted above. The GOP has maintained a unified front, so why go rogue now when so many are on board against IPAB?
On the surface, the argument by DeMint and King seems reasonable: killing portions of Obamacare undermines and confuses the real goal — killing the whole thing, stem to stern, in one fell swoop. Attacking parts of the law, they claim, may appear to signal complacency with mending it, and indicate we are okay with a watered-down version and risk being seen as the “party of some of Obamacare.”
But this simply is not true. As DeMint and King point out, the 2012 election will yield either a pro-Obamacare or anti-Obamacare result based on which party prevails, and total repeal of the law remains a pillar of the Republican 2012 platform without exception. No Republican working to push IPAB off a cliff will settle for less, so the choice is not mutually exclusive and the framing of the election is not affected. Voters still know that the GOP is the party for total repeal, and with continued unanimity long since settled, taking on IPAB strengthens, not weakens, the party’s image on the issue. Seniors understand the stakes, and favor attacking IPAB just as much as repealing Obamacare as a whole. Pronouncements like these from up above fall upon deaf ears.