A Lame Attempt to Blame Republicans for Obamacare’s Mess

by Jim Geraghty

Jamelle Bouie, writing in The Daily Beast: “Before we blame the problems with Healthcare.gov on ‘big government’ or ‘liberalism,’ we should remember that the Affordable Care Act needed GOP cooperation to succeed.”

Why? As Robert Gamble noted, “If your plan requires complete control and no opposition, then it isn’t a plan, it’s a wish.”

If “the Affordable Care Act needed GOP cooperation to succeed,” why did President Obama, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, and then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi go forward with the bill when it was clear that no Republican in the House or Senate would vote for the bill as written? Why alienate people whose cooperation is absolutely necessary?

If Republicans thought the law was a terrible idea before it was signed into law in March 2010, why would they be obligated to drop their opposition to it afterwards?

What is this insane notion that once a law is passed, its opponents must drop their objections and meekly cooperate in enacting it? That is not the way the Democrats greeted Republican decisions such as the Iraq War or the Bush tax cuts. That is not the way gay-marriage supporters reacted to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Bouie writes: “What’s frustrating about the current conversation over Obamacare is the extent to which there’s been collective amnesia regarding the GOP’s categorical opposition to the law.” That may be what’s particularly frustrating to him at this moment, but I think that “collective amnesia” is rather less frustrating to the public than an expensive website that doesn’t work; unexpected cancellation notices after presidential assurances; sticker shock from high premiums, deductibles and co-pays under the new plans; a more limited selection of doctors and hospitals under the new plans; confusing, rapidly changing rules for “grandfathering” the old plans; the possibility of the “death spiral” for insurance companies; and of course, identity thieves and cybersecurity worries.

He asks, “How would the status quo look if Republican states embraced the Medicaid expansion and worked to build their own exchanges (Kentucky, for instance)?” Well, it depends if those other Republican states built their exchanges and had a decent, working exchange, like Kentucky, or if they had one like Oregon’s, which has yet to sign up anyone. Still. The Medicaid expansion is expensive and does not do anything to help the exchanges or ward off the death spiral.

He asks, “What if, instead of casting endless repeal votes, GOP lawmakers worked with Democrats to fix problems in the law?” Like what? What change to the law has President Obama asked for that Republicans have refused? Obama’s been making all of the changes to the law unilaterally. He’s issuing veto threats to the Upton plan and similar plans in the Senate.

He asks, “What does the political situation look like in a world where Republicans don’t attack the Affordable Care Act as a step on the road to serfdom?” It’s a better political situation for Democrats, but I don’t see why that goal should be a priority for Republicans. You might as well ask what the political situation looks like in a world where the Obama campaign didn’t attack Mitt Romney as a heartless plutocrat who causes cancer in blue-collar workers’ spouses. I suppose that world could be sort of one’s “happy place” to retreat into when reality becomes too much to bear.

He concludes, “If conservatives could let go of their Obama hatred and partisan pique, they might see the real opportunities that exist for center-right health reform.” What’s unclear is why Republicans have to, or should even try to, enact their center-right health reforms within a rapidly-failing Obamacare infrastructure. Scrap this whole damn thing and start over.