Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#1 May 17, 2013
On Thursday, the House of Representatives cast its 37th vote to repeal all or part of the health-care law. Or possibly its 38th vote. And I’ve heard some say its 36th vote. It depends how you count.

Why try another? Because a number of freshmen haven’t yet had a chance to vote on a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And the House Republican Conference feels that repealing Obamacare is something every House member should get to do at least once. It’s a rite of passage, like dry-heaving after Paul Ryan’s P-90X class, or offering your first amendment in committee.

The repeal passed the House though it will, as usual, be ignored by the Senate. But these news stories that put the words “repeal” and “Obamacare” near to one another have had an effect. As my colleague Sarah Kliff writes,“Last month, the Kaiser Family Foundation polled Americans on whether the Affordable Care Act is still law. Twelve percent of Americans — that’s about one in eight people — think that Congress repealed the Affordable Care Act. Another 23 percent aren’t sure or refused to answer the question.”

Another seven percent, by the way, thought the Supreme Court had overturned it. There are going to be a lot of surprised people come 2014.

This vote had another interesting side effect, though.“It also repeals a central deficit-reduction component of the GOP’s own budget by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), which was released in March with much bravado and projections that it would balance the budget within a decade,” writes TPM’s Sahil Kapur.

The Ryan budget gets trillions of dollars from Obamacare. It repeals all of its spending but it keeps both its spending cuts and its new tax revenues. Repealing the law would, as the budget does, eliminate the new spending. But it would also get rid of spending cuts and the new taxes — which equal almost $2 trillion over the next decade. Absent those, Ryan’s budget is far from reaching balance.

It’s also a reminder that three years after the passage of Obamacare, the Republican Party still hasn’t made good on its oft-repeated promise to repeal-and-replace. It’s done the “repeal” part, of course. But it’s no closer to offering a replacement than it was in 2010. In fact, it might even be further. A few weeks ago, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suffered a surprising and humiliating defeat on the House floor when Republicans beat back a modest bill he offered to fund high-risk pools for patients with preexisting conditions. Even that was too much replacement for the Republican Party.

Just as their balanced budget relies on the cost savings in Obamacare, their health-care policy relies on the existence of Obamacare. If it wasn’t there to repeal, what would they have to say?

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