Friday, February 06, 2015


Brian Beutler notes that Senator Richard Burr, co-author of an outline for a terrible Republican replacement for Obamacare, has acknowledged that no permanent replacement is likely to be passed before President Obama leaves office -- and he suggests that Republicans will agree to a temporary fix:
On Fox News Thursday, [Burr] acknowledged that this Congress won’t coalesce around his or any other plan before Obama leaves office. But he also suggested Republicans won’t be empty handed when the ruling in King v. Burwell comes down.

“I think that there are going to be a lot of ideas not only in Congress but around the think tanks here in Washington and around the country,” Burr said. “But I do say this, we're going to know a lot more after the Supreme Court hears the King v. Burwell case, and that's going to be a short-term interim response. The long-term is, how do we revamp this in 2017 and after so it works for America's patients?"

The suggestion buried in there is that Republicans will proffer a stopgap of some kind, to patch the law between this summer and the end of Obama’s presidency, and then let the presidential election determine the shape of a permanent solution.
Beutler is skeptical about this:
... I think there’s something a little too cute about Burr's idea. Proposing a temporary patch is basically a tacit admission that it'd be extremely straightforward to fix it permanently. If you’re only willing to paper over the problem for a year and a half, you’re implicitly asking the justices to give you legislative leverage -- and to meddle in presidential politics -- to stack the deck for conservative policies that wouldn’t stand a chance without their intervention.

I’m not sure that provides the Court much cover.

... [The justices] surely know that even under the best of circumstances, ruling for the King plaintiffs will create a huge substantive mess and an even bigger legitimacy problem for the Court.
But how much cover does the Court need? Ordinary people understand next to nothing about how the law works and how the legislative process works. If Republicans act all innocent and say, "We have a patch, and we're working diligently on a permanent replacement," why should we expect voters to see the cynicism behind all this?

Beutler adds:
... I’m ... unsure that Republican leaders could pass a temporary patch if they wanted to -- both because I suspect absolutely livid Democrats would accept nothing less than a complete fix, and because, without Dem participation, Republicans would be unable to convince their own hardliners to spend billions of dollars on a two-year stopgap, during which the law-as-implemented would take deeper and deeper root.
But at that point, Republicans won't care. They hate the law. They're perfectly happy to walk away and see it not fixed, even temporarily -- as long as they can persuade the majority of Americans who want it fixed that it's going unfixed because the Democrats refuse to accept the perfectly reasonable GOP patch. Some Americans will see through the ruse, but most of them will be people who already lean Democratic.

So Republicans will offer a temporary fix, and if Democrats reject it, then there'll be chaos -- and Democrats will either have to take what the Republicans give or (as the conventional wisdom will develop) share the blame for the fact that the law isn't patched. I assume they'll capitulate.

And that forces Hillary Clinton to either campaign on full, permanent restoration of a law a lot of people don't like or propose yet another health care overhaul. I don't know how that will work out. Republicans will try to say that her plan, whatever it is, is "old and tired" -- like her! -- and theirs is shiny and new and full of Freedom! We'll see who prevails.

If Hillary wins in 2016, we'll probably still have at least one Republican house of Congress, so the best we can probably hope for on health care is the renewal of the temporary patch indefinitely. If a Republican wins, gird your loins -- Scott Walker, Rick Scott, and even Sam Brownback proved that you can infuriate voters with wingnut legislation and still get reelected. So anything could happen, very possibly including repeal without replacement. If that happens early enough in 2017, I bet most Republicans can survive it and get reelected in November 2018. So I really think they'll go for it.


Ray said...

I might be too optimistic but I have noticed that quite a few seem to be waking up to TP/GOP schemes. Thus, if they yank health care from millions of people I feel the mood is right for repercussions. What type will be up to the people that are suffering now from TP/GOP policies combined with all of the millions of new ones. Nothing will motive a populace quicker, then watching a loved one suffer medically for the TP/GOP took their health care away.

ladyblug said...

Steve~ I think you give the GOP too much credit sometimes.

Ken_L said...

There's a disturbing tendency in a lot of online commentary to assume the Supreme Court's decision is a foregone conclusion. It's a bad mistake. If wavering judges believe everyone's already resigned to having the ACA ripped apart, they will be more likely to do just that.

Democrats ought to take a leaf out of their opponents' book for once, and start threatening all kinds of retribution if the Court so much as touches a hair on the ACA's head. But that would mean being passionate about the rights of ordinary people, something which most Democrats seem only to have read about in books.

Anonymous said...

"you can infuriate voters with wingnut legislation and still get reelected."

Do you detect a teensy-weensy bit of illogicality in that statement?

Or are you simply suggesting that the majority of your 'fellow Americans' are all nutters?

Jest askin'!

Victor said...

Like you, too many of them are 'nutters!'

And, like you, many of them are under/mis/un/ill-informed.

Our Republicans and conservatives have, after all of their hysteria over the last 7 years, too much at stake to let ANY aspect of PPACA (Obamacare) stand.

And they're chomping at the bit, to blame ANY failure of the President, and the Democrat's.

As per usual, any failure for the country and its people, is seen as a victory for them.
Even if the death toll is in the millions, eventually.

Party over people!
Party over country!!
PARTY UBER ALLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joseph Nobles said...

Why couldn't the States in question pass a law deeming the Federal exchange to be established by them for purposes of the ACA? I mean, other than they're sick GOP bastards. Couldn't that work at least?

Ten Bears said...

Yes Ray, if we were to look for a linch-pin to Revolution, a straw to break the camels back, that would be the candidate. But I am sure some white girl will turn up missing somewhere.

Yes duffus, the vast majority of "Americans" are nuts. Overwieght, under-educated, drunk on ambien, prozac, viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid blindly following a bloodthirsty religion to suicide nutters. Lacking even a clue as to what's really going on.

It's a bipartisan thing, as prevelent on the left as right.

Anonymous said...

@10 Bears:

I disagree! "The vast majority of Americans" are not nuts. Some are but not many. Many more of them are deluded, just like electorates everywhere. This means that, for example, they were deluded by that apparently smart, good-looking, black fella with a university degree (of some sort!) who was such a change from 'good ol' Dubya'. Now they can't wait to see the back of him.

But, hey, that's democracy for you, a very messy business until, as Churchill once pointed out, you consider the alternative.