The Corner

Repeal and Replace

This week, President Obama signed into law a health-care bill that was rushed through the Senate on Christmas Eve, pushed through the House of Representatives near midnight on Sunday, and which has been overwhelmingly rejected by the American people. Democrats are now celebrating their great victory, but it will be short lived. This health-care bill will be repealed; it’s not a question of “if,” but “when.”

Earlier this week, a blog post generated confusion over my position on what to do next. Actions speak louder than words, however, so yesterday I signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill that is a straightforward repeal of what the president signed on Tuesday. That should clarify my position. Let me explain why all of us who favor repeal should be confident of success.

The health-care bill will be repealed because Americans have followed the debate in Washington for more than a year, and their views are clear. According to a weekend poll by CNN, 59 percent of the American people oppose the health-care bill. Twice as many Americans think they will be worse off than better off under the bill, and five times as many believe that the bill will make the federal deficit worse than better. Every Republican in Congress heard the voices of our people and voted against this bill, as did 34 Democrats in the House. No one who voted against Washington’s $2.6 trillion power grab in the first place should have any qualms about repealing this boondoggle at the first opportunity.

Of course, the White House anticipates that the American people will learn to love this bill so much that repeal will soon become politically impossible. In their view, seniors will learn to love the cuts to Medicare, small business owners will learn to love the employer mandate, and we will all learn to love the 16,000 IRS agents who will soon be enforcing all the new taxes and mandates. In truth, popular support for repeal has only begun to grow. Every person who loses their employer-based coverage, and every family that sees their premiums continue to rise, will join the repeal effort.

Yet even if repeal does not become popular, it will soon become necessary, whether Washington likes it or not. The United States simply cannot afford another vast new entitlement, and the bond markets are making that clear. This week we learned that lending your money to Warren Buffet is now a safer investment than lending it to Washington. Many financial analysts expect the United States could soon lose its AAA debt rating, which would increase the share of our tax dollars used to finance the national debt. Investors can see through all the budget gimmicks in the health-care bill, and they can see how Washington has put the full faith and credit of our country at even greater risk. A fiscal reckoning is inevitable in the next few years, and repeal will be the first major step back on the path to fiscal discipline.

Of course, Republicans seek not only to repeal this health-care bill, but also to replace it with something better. Make no mistake: “replace” does not mean tinkering around the edges of this $2.6 trillion bill. “Replace” does not mean saying “yes but less” to another unsustainable entitlement. “Replace” means enacting reforms that will actually lower the costs of health care, which the American people want and expect us to do.

Republicans will help lower the costs of health care by offering many of the commonsense solutions we proposed repeatedly over the last year. These solutions include giving states incentives to implement insurance reforms that will expand competition in each market, and finding ways to ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions can access the coverage they need. They include giving employers more flexibility to reward healthy behaviors, and changing the incentives in the healt-care system to favor higher-value care. Our solutions include expanding health savings accounts, accelerating medical-liability reforms, and increasing transparency and accountability throughout the system. Many of these ideas have been field-tested across America and have proven successful in lowering costs and improving access to care.

Democrats ignored these Republican solutions as they plotted their takeover of the health-care system, and now repeal must take place before any of these solutions can be implemented. Republicans should assure all Americans that lowering the costs of health care remains in reach and remains our goal. And we must make clear that that goal begins with repeal.

Sen. John Cornyn is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.


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