Critical Condition

Two Ways to Improve the Repeal Bill

Not that I’m trying to be a party-pooper, but there are two things that would have improved yesterday’s repeal bill (and, by implication, will improve it if and when the Senate deals with it), neither of which adds complexity to the elegant and brief bill passed by the people’s chamber.

First: The House has a new rule that bills must refer to the constitutionally enumerated power that allows Congress to legislate the matter at hand, but it does not demand the complement. This can be rectified: When a bill to repeal legislation is introduced, and is (at least partially) grounded in the idea that the original legislation was unconstitutional, the repeal bill should assert as much in the preamble. Something like this:

“Whereas the U.S. Constution does not enumerate a power to the federal government to mandate the purchase of health insurance, P.L. 111-148 and P.L. 111-152 violate the U.S. Constitution and are, therefore, intolerable acts.”

Second, naming the bill the “Repeal the Job-Killing Health-Care Law Act” was a wasted opportunity. (No, not because it invokes images of violence.) The bill repeals “Obamacare,” plain and simple. The media go to great lengths to avoid using that label, so Republicans should use it in every bill that addresses Obamacare. The “Obamacare Repeal Act” would have achieved this — and would have been much easier for the rest of us to get our mouths around.

Back in 2007, when Governor Schwarzenegger was trying to impose mandatory health insurance in California, I struggled mightily to find a label: Nothing worked — not “ArnieCare,” not “TerminatorCare,” nor even “MariaCare,” referring to Maria Shriver, whom many suspected was the real driver of the legislation.

Let’s face it, one great unearned benefit of opposing the government take-over of our access to medical services is the ability to use the president’s last name to connote the legislation negatively. It sounds even better than “HillaryCare”! I’ve given a lot of speeches on this legislation, and the auditory aesthetics of the word “Obamacare,” when spoken by and to its critics, is undeniable. It just rolls off the tongue. (“Romneycare” is a close second, of course, and I’m glad of that, too — because that “reform” has had significant negative consequences for costs of and access to care in Massachusetts.)

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