Nor has repeal of Obamacare been a national Republican theme. Individual candidates have, of course, made it an issue. But national Republican spokesmen have not invested the issue with a sense of urgency.
Obviously, given the Democrats’ ability to mount a Senate filibuster — even if Republicans take control of the chamber — and a certain presidential veto, outright repeal of the health-care law remains a long-shot at best in the next couple of years. Still, a willingness to support — and force a vote on — repeal can be seen as a proxy for how vigorously a legislator will support other measures to kill it, such as defunding implementation, or repealing some of the most unpopular aspects of the law, such as the individual mandate.
And if a representative or senator is not willing to stand up against a bad law when 56 percent of likely voters favor repeal (and 45 percent strongly
favor it) according to the latest Rasmussen poll, how will he behave when public opinion is not so clearly on his side? Are these candidates just about casting the relatively easy vote, or are they willing to take on the heavy lifting?
Obamacare was one of the truly defining votes of recent history. But how Republicans — and anti-Obamacare Democrats — behave now will be equally defining. It’s time to stand up and be counted.
— Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.