Obamacare continues to unravel, even more thoroughly than its harshest critics could have hallucinated. Now, rather than chop the GOP in two by enacting comprehensive immigration reform, House Republican leaders should divide Democrats by scheduling incremental votes on pro-patient ideas to replace Obamacare.
Just this week, the Congressional Budget Office reported that Obamacare’s disincentives to hire and incentives not to work will reduce the U.S. work force by the equivalent of 2.3 million jobs by 2021.
Meanwhile, HealthCare.gov lurched into another wall. Some 22,000 Americans have completed seven-page-long appeals after they incorrectly were denied coverage or overcharged for Obamacare. Unfortunately, as the Washington Post revealed, “The part of the computer system that would allow agency workers to read and handle appeals has not been built.” Not built? The $677 million website premiered on October 1!
Federal authorities also are combing HealthCare.gov for programming code reportedly drafted in an anti-American, Soviet-style dictatorship. One official told Bill Gertz, the Washington Free Beacon’s veteran national-security correspondent: “The U.S. Affordable Care Act software was written in part in Belarus by software developers under state control, and that makes the software a potential target for cyber attacks.” If true, one wonders, were Silicon Valley programmers so busy that Team Obama had to recruit talent in Minsk?
As Obamacare crumbles, the House at long last should pass legislation to demonstrate that Republicans oppose Obamacare but support free-market health-care solutions. Rather than write a 2,801-page bill in secret and then adopt it, unread — à la Obamacare — the GOP House should spend each week debating and then voting on one specific idea to replace Obama’s pet monster, piece by piece.
Each of these small items likely would receive some Democratic votes, although the party uniformly would reject a single, catchall GOP alternative to Obamacare. This portfolio of votes will be highly instructive next November. Republican challengers can tell voters whether Democratic incumbents embraced or spurned, for instance, medical-malpractice reform, health-insurance purchases across state lines, termination of the medical-device tax, and a repeal of Obamacare’s $47 billion bailout of health-insurance companies.
Republicans should give Democrats repeated opportunities to stand and be counted. Let Democrats help or hinder Republican efforts to allow universal health-savings accounts, tax-free health premiums, and tax deductibility for the value of charity care that doctors provide to the indigent and uninsured.
Harry Reid and Senate Democrats will kill or, more likely, ignore these pro-freedom, pro-patient concepts. Republicans then should tell voters: “If you like these ideas, reelect a Republican House and elect a Republican Senate. In 2015, we will pass this replacement for Obamacare. If Obama vetoes it, elect a Republican president in 2016. Together, we will drive Obamacare straight to the junkyard.”
This all sounds much better than a GOP civil war over amnesty.
If Republicans feel compelled to act on immigration, they should adopt stronger, smarter border protections — for national security as much as to curb illegal immigration. As former national intelligence director Mike McConnell told the El Paso Times, “Terrorists have been caught trying to cross the Mexican border, and these interdictions saved American lives.”
Republicans can promote lawful immigration by fast-tracking green cards for pro-American, crime-free foreign students who graduate from U.S. colleges and wish to pursue the American Dream rather than jet home and compete against us.
GOP lawmakers and voters can unite behind these modest goals. However, granting illegal aliens amnesty will rip the Right in two, paralyze the conservative base in disgust, and possibly inspire exasperated activists to launch a third party to run against Republicans in general elections. This will guarantee Democratic victories from coast to coast.
Voting on Obamacare-replacement measures will unite Republicans and force Democrats to claw each other’s eyes out. But pivoting from Obamacare to amnesty (for which there is no public clamor) will turn the GOP into Gettysburg, maintain the Senate in Harry Reid’s hands, and possibly return the speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi’s plutocratic fingers.
So, don’t do that.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.