The Corner

The Long Fight for Repeal

Over on the homepage, Bob Costa looks at the GOP’s long-term strategy to undo Obamacare. I caught up with Alex Cortes, chairman of, a conservative organization dedicated to, well, you can probably guess. He shared his thoughts on how the Republican repeal effort should proceed following today’s vote in the House.

Cortes says he favors any and all Republican efforts to dismantle the law provision by provision and deprive it of funds at the committee level, but points out that many of these efforts are certain to fail given the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House. And while he wants Republicans to do everything they can, as aggressively as they can, in the next couple of years, he cautions that the repeal effort is ultimately a long-term game, much of which will be fought on the campaign trail and at the polls in coming years. “We ultimately need 60 senators to repeal the bill — to prevent a filibuster — and that’s going to take years,” he says. “It could be a decade or more, it could honestly be never.”

“This isn’t something that we’re likely to repeal in 2012, 2013,” he continues. “Unfortunately it will probably be longer than that and that’s why we really have to defund it each and every year until then. Defunding is the only substantive thing they can do in the next Congress.”

Going forward, Cortes notes, it will be crucial for conservatives to step up the pressure on vulnerable Democratic senators up for reelection in 2012 — Sens. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.), Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) and others — and says it would be smart of Republicans to force as many minor votes on Obamacare as possible to force these Democrats to go on the record.

While he supports Rep. Steve King’s proposal — which would make it illegal to include Obamacare funding in any appropriations bill — he says that doing so could “bring you to a [government] shutdown scenario,” because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama obviously won’t go for it. But he thinks that’s a fight Republicans can win. “Are [Democrats] really going to shut down government just to protect their failed pet experiment that the American people already reject?” he asks. “Look at the poll numbers; the American people are clearly on our side.” 

For Republicans, the alternative would be to meekly authorize funding for the law’s implementation over the next two years. Cortes says he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the GOP backs down, because they don’t want to be blamed for a shutdown and worry about the political consequences of such an aggressive strategy. Either way, voters will be watching.

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...


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