Conservative Marc Thiessen is worried that Republicans may be backing away from “repeal, replace”:
But today some Republicans are losing their nerve on repeal. Rep. Mark Kirk, who is running for the Senate in Illinois, signed the repeal pledge and even vowed to “lead the effort” for repeal, but has since backed off, declaring “I voted against it, but we lost.” Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina , who is running for reelection, has said that “total repeal” is unlikely. And Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is in charge of messaging for the Republican Senate leadership, says that instead of repeal, Republicans should promise “at least big changes” to the bill.
Not exactly a resounding battle cry.
Thiessen, a former Bush 43 speechwriter, need not have worried. This morning, House Minority Leader John Boehner gave a full-throated yell of the old battlecry.
Repealing healthcare reform will be Republicans’ “No. 1 priority,” their House leader said Monday.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that repealing the healthcare legislation passed in Congress last month and signed into law by President Barack Obama would be the GOP’s top priority if it wins back control of Congress this fall. “They got everything else in the entire bureaucracy that they need to control our healthcare system … with the signing of this bill,” Boehner said during an interview on WFLA’s “Bud Hedinger Show.” “That’s why repealing this bill has to be our No. 1 priority.”
But a battlecry is all it is. There is not one iota of political reality behind it. As Newt Gingrich has acknowledged, if a GOP-controlled Congress were to pass a bill repealing the law, Obama would veto it. Republicans aren’t likely to get enough votes in the mid-terms to override a veto, even if they were to take both houses of Congress (which is quite unlikely.)
And replace? That’s fantasy, too, as my colleague Jay Bookman has explained:
So if the GOP plan is going to ensure that pre-existing conditions are covered, as Chambliss and McConnell suggested, how would they do it without individual mandates? What mechanism would they use?
Chambliss and McConnell had no answer. Literally.
After Chambliss fumbled an initial response, McConnell broke in with a long and familiar condemnation of the Democratic plan, including its failure to include tort reform. After a few minutes, I interrupted and brought him back to the question: OK, but how are the Republicans going to cover pre-existing conditions?
“The premiums are going up either way,” he said.
OK, I responded, a little stunned. That doesn’t explain how the Republicans intend to cover pre-existing conditions.
“The premiums are going up either way,” he repeated.
That was that. We moved on, and I still don’t have my answer.