Is repeal dead?

No, maybe not on life support.  But you could make a good case it’s in intensive care.  The Freedom Caucus seriously just upped the stakes– and the likelihood of total failure on repeal (these are the members of Congress who’s parents never taught them “half a loaf…”).  From HuffPo:

Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus voted among themselves Monday night to band together and support only an Obamacare repeal that is at least as aggressive as a bill the House and Senate passed in 2015, putting GOP leaders in a bind with their conference and perhaps even threatening the possibility of passing a repeal.

The group of roughly 35 to 40 House conservatives voted to take this official position ― meaning it received the support of at least 80 percent of the members and is therefore supposed to be the position of all lawmakers in the group ― amid some GOP consternation that Republicans ought to focus more on repairing the law rather than repealing it, as well as amid heavy voter pressure in many districts to leave the law intact.

“If it’s less than the 2015 [bill], we will oppose it,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told a small group of reporters Monday night…

The 2015 repeal bill removed the Medicaid expansion that is popular in many red states ― including among many Republican governors ― and repealed the individual and employer mandates. The bill also removed the law’s subsidies and the taxes that helped to pay for them. In short, it would disassemble Obamacare.

By insisting that the repeal bill be as forceful as that 2015 measure ― which technically got to President Barack Obama’s desk at the beginning of 2016 ― conservatives have staked out a hard line that some GOP moderates may now have a problem following. [emphasis mine]

Ummmm, yep.  For “moderates” (a misnomer, more like “non-extreme conservatives”) that don’t actually want millions of people stripped of health care and dying in the streets, a full-on repeal with no replacement is a no-go.  I would imagine there’s not close to 50 Senate votes for this in the real world.

Alas, here’s the thing, the Freedom Caucus is not in the real world:

They noted Monday night that Republicans had already voted on the 2015 repeal ― at least the ones who were here last Congress ― and they believe it would be hypocritical for Republicans to balk at the plan they supported a year ago.

“They voted for it already, so, be consistent,” Freedom Caucus member Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said.

WTF??!!  Are these guys in third grade?  They might as well be.  It’s really not a hard concept to separate “symbolism” from “actual legislation.”  With Obama as president, a repeal vote is symbolism, and nothing more.  Stupid symbolism catering to the worst elements of the Republican base, but clearly just sybolism.  And, now, to pretend, heaven forbid legislators should think differently when their votes are actually making policy, as they surely are under a Republican president?  Gimme a break.

Maybe there’s room for some sort of compromise somewhere among Republicans.  But if the Freedom Caucus keeps this up, we’ll be able to thank them for saving Obamacare.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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