As you know, the Affordable Care Act is working.
Republican spent years telling us this law would crash under its own weight. And during the worst of the launch of Healthcare.gov they seemed prophetic. Now they’re relying on mass delusion of their base who doesn’t even think Obama can get his own birth certificate right.
If Obamacare had crashed and burned, Republicans would just being roasting marshmallows over the burning embers. Instead, they’re pursuing a three separate paths the wreck the greatest expansion of health care in America since the 1960s.
The first is the most hopeless.
The GOP Senate could try to repeal the law through reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes. But that likely won’t work because of the Byrd Rule, which doesn’t allow this process to be used for anything that significantly increases the deficit. Yes, this would point out that Obamacare actually does significantly reduce the deficit.
However, this — like anything in the Senate — can probably be circumvented. The Bush tax breaks were passed via reconciliation and some sort of repeal could too.
But doing so would lay bare the fact that the GOP cannot and will not be able to come up with an alternative to the ACA. And even if they did, they could never get 60 votes for a bill that would be at least as controversial as Obamacare when that bill has no chance of becoming law — as the president would never sign it.
Republicans have started to coax each other into admitting that they want to take insurance away from millions. But why would Republican Senators in blue states up for election in 2016 make that admission for show? There’s only one reason.
Pretending that there is Republican alternative to the law is important for the GOP’s second — and brightest hope — for gutting the law: the Supreme Court.
The lawsuit that would deny tax credits to the 9.7 million Americans who received them through the federal exchange is baseless. But given that there are at least three votes against Obama supports — including the naming of posts offices — the court could easily deliver a “body blow” to the law.
It’s an body blow that Congress could easily dodge with a one-page law. Or every Republican-led state that rejected the exchanges could rectify the situation in the future by simply starting their own exchanges.
Neither of these things will happen.
A fix for Obamacare is even less likely than a fix for the Voting Rights Act that Chief Justice John Roberts suggested in his decision gutting that historic law.
If these laws weren’t working, conservatives wouldn’t try to be breaking them — in the Voting Rights Act’s case for decades.
But there’s a difference this time, Roberts would be taking money out of the pockets of middle class Americans in a way that’s never been imagined before. Thus the necessity of GOP alternative, which would require the party to unite in a way it normally only does in favor of cutting taxes, limiting women’s control over their bodies and invading Middle Eastern countries.
The third path for undoing Obamacare is the only legitimate one: they could run and win a presidential election based on the premise that a law that’s insured tens of millions and added at least a decade of life to Medicare needs to be destroyed. This would require the kind of rejection of Obama’s policies that George W. Bush experienced in 2008.
To conservatives, 10 million Americans gaining health insurance is a bigger disaster than the Iraq War.
But to most Americans, it’s sign of imperfect progress that needs to be improved, not abandoned.
Republicans cannot admit that the Affordable Care Act is working. They’ll quickly tell you anecdote about how they or a family member is paying more or lost their plan or their doctor. But they won’t admit that these things all happened before the Affordable Care Act. And when they did, the growth in costs was faster and often you couldn’t find any insurer who would cover you at all.
Most importantly, the GOP will never be able to produce a plan in which no one pays more and loses their plan or doctor. There is no alternative because the ACA was the alternative. And you can’t blame them if they’re in shock. They’ve never seen a Republican idea work before.
The right’s lust to criticize Obamacare has boxed them in.
And if they get their wish and watch the Supreme Court take coverage from millions, all they will have done is broken something that was working. And when you do that, you own it.