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Thursday, January 20, 2011

For the GOP, We are All Just 'Minor Things'

Here's a short list of things that are the height of tyranny -- at least, in terms of healthcare reform -- according to Republicans (and courtesy of Crooks and Liars):

Boehner and caption, 'No We Can't'
-Excluding children under age 19 with pre-existing conditions
-Lifting lifetime and annual limits on benefits paid. No longer can a price be put on someone's life.
-Allowing young adults to remain on their parents' policies.
-Closing the Medicare Part D donut hole for seniors.


These things must be repealed or the Republic shall surely fall! So the party's majority in the House of Representatives voted to save America from communism last night, passing a bill to repeal the healthcare reform law. Unfortunately, the effort is doomed to fail and is seen as symbolic (read, "political theater"). The hyperbolically and inaccurately titled "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act" has no chance of ever becoming law itself. It would have to pass in the Senate -- where it stands no chance -- then to the president's desk -- where it'll be surely vetoed. Then it's back to Congress, where there's no chance of a veto override. The only thing more doomed than this bill are Sarah Palin's presidential ambitions.



Republicans allowed no amendments. It was total repeal or no repeal, because no repeal is -- frankly -- better for them. Like so many other wedge issues (i.e., abortion, gay rights, etc.), Republicans have no intention of doing anything about healthcare reform. Sure, they'll nibble away at the edges, but once the law is gone, they've killed the golden goose. It's very, very, very important that the GOP keep their pet wedge issues alive forever, so they can "fight" them for eternity.

There's been talk of defunding some provisions of healthcare reform, but which ones? It's the individual mandate that's the most unpopular part and that's just a tax penalty -- how do you defund that? On the other hand, things like closing the donut hole for seniors could be defunded, but it would be political suicide. So that's not going to happen. The Republican base has a wildly inaccurate idea of what the GOP could choke off funding for, which isn't extremely surprising -- they've been listening to the GOP and rightwing media. And those are the top two producers of raw, unrefined BS in the nation.

Still, it does give you an idea of how the GOP feels about you. Short answer: they think you're a gullible dope, they need your vote, but otherwise could give a crap either way. Consider that list of things this bill would repeal, then check out this quote from Republican Rep. Steve King:

"I actually don't think [full repeal] would be met with tremendous backlash. There are Republicans who support those ideas and we start tomorrow the process of replacement of 'Obamacare.'

"It will not work for us to say there's a certain component of Obamacare that has some merit and so therefore we want to leave that in place and repeal the rest. This is too many pages, it's too cluttered, it's too big an argument to allow it to turn on one or two minor things.


To which Steve Benen responds:

In this context, it appears protection for children with pre-existing conditions is a "minor thing."

I wonder how many of the millions of families already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act would dismiss their benefits as "minor things"?

Also keep in mind, King isn't exactly cagey about his intentions. There is no alternative reform package from him or his party -- the goal is to gut the American health care system now, and then maybe figure something else out later.

And as we're about to find out, the entire House Republican caucus is on board with exactly this approach.


It probably pays to point out that, as fruitless as the effort is likely to be, there's an extremely thin (about three atoms wide) chance of it actually becoming law. Republicans are willing to risk that, in order to make a big show of trying to repeal something they have no intention of repealing. They're willing to return the country to an unsustainable status quo, because they whipped up a wedge issue by lying to everyone about healthcare reform. What's more important than lifting lifetime caps on benefits or allowing kids with pre-existing conditions to get care?

The 2012 elections.

Don't kid yourself, you're the most important person in the world when you stand in that voting booth. But once you step out, the Republican Party doesn't give a damn about you.

-Wisco


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