House Republicans Vote to Repeal the Affordable Care Act: A Prime Example of Public Officials Taking Action Not in the Best Interest of the Citizenry

It’s time to Break It Down!

The United States House of Representatives has voted dozens of times (at least 54) to overturn some or all of the health care initiative known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or more familiarly, Obamacare. In past instances, the action was moot, virtually from the start, since Democrats controlled the Senate, and the measure stood absolutely no chance of passing in that Chamber. In fact, it would likely never even be put to a vote while the Senate was under the leadership of Nevada Senator Harry Reid.

However, those dynamics changed, effective last November when Republicans gained control of the Senate due to the outcome of the 2014 General Election. Now, there is every reason to believe the Senate will not only entertain the bill, but will probably attempt to join the House in passing it.

To be sure wherever politics are involved, there will be parsing. Technically, it is true, the GOP has voted to repeal Obamacare…in its entirety, only six times. One could argue that the first five were enough, but oh well, nothing beats a failure but a try, or six tries, or in the case of elements of Obamacare 56 tries.  I guess the 56th time is the charm.

Yes, depending upon your perspective, perhaps you prefer to ignore the assaults on the program that were intended only to undo portions of the program, or forget about those efforts that would have delayed portions of the healthcare law. Of course if you did that, you would be choosing to ignore the point that each and every measure, whether proportional or nuclear, was intended, in the end, to erase eradicate, and destroy the President’s health care law. In that spirit, 56 times sounds about right.

So yesterday, by a vote of 239-186, the House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, in its entirety. Thus, the GOP fired the first salvo at Obamacare, under the aegis of the newly constructed 114th Congress. Some suggest yesterday’s vote was a mere meaningless gesture, an act to welcome the newbies to the party.

One writer, the Atlantic’s Russell Berman framed it thusly:

They’re doing it for the freshmen — that is, the 47 House Republicans who just took office a month ago and have never had the high honor and privilege of voting to repeal Obamacare. By holding the vote, these lawmakers can head back to their districts and tell their constituents that yes; they did everything they could to get rid of the reviled law.

Added one GOP aide: “We’re just getting it out of the way.”

The larger reality is it is clear this is just the beginning of a new series of assaults on the program, launched by the Republican-controlled Congress. While the Senate is likely to consider the bill soon, in all probability, it will be filibustered there. However, in the unlikely event that lawmakers in the Senate broker a bill to totally repeal Obamacare that clears the Senate, an all but certain veto waits when it reaches the President’s desk.

And then, there is the Supreme Court, which will in the next six months consider elements of the law when it weighs in on the King v. Burwell case, in which some subsidies offered by the ACA are being challenged. If the High Court upholds the verdict reached in a lower court, it would severely undermine Obamacare, and strengthen the GOP’s efforts to squash the law. To that end, there is increasing pressure on the GOP to move into a proactive phase, and actually devise a substitute for the current law. In fact, yesterday’s measure directed a House Committee to begin work on an alternative to the ACA.

For their part, Democrats are skeptical the GOP can or will actually be able to craft compromise legislation that surgically excises the parts of the legislation they don’t like, while in effect holding harmless the elements they find acceptable.

Representative Jim Himes (Democrat – Connecticut) put it this way:

“Make no mistake, the replacement plan is a total red herring. They would have you believe that you can get rid of all the stuff that makes you uncomfortable — the mandate, the subsidies — but keep all the good stuff. And that’s just fairytale. … It’s just dishonesty. They’ve had years and years and years to come up with a replacement plan and haven’t done so, so this is a little too cute for school.”

Yesterday’s vote was significant in that three Republicans resisted the powerful allure of Party Leadership and voted against the effort to fully repeal Obamacare. This is the first time any Republican in Congress ever voted against total repeal.

John Katko, New York, Bruce Poliquin, Maine, and Robert Dold, Illinois, all who hold seats held in the previous term by Democrats, and likely to be contested in 2016, voted against the measure. Democrats cited votes by Dold, who served in the House in the 2011-2013 term, to repeal the law, as well as statements by freshman Poliquin, vowing to do the same.

According to Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

“Congressmen Dold and Poliquin appear to be hoping voters will forget their original pandering on health care. As we get closer to Election Day, we will see more and more of these chameleon votes.”

No Democrat crossed party lines to support yesterday’s bill.

If you are a student of history, or politics, or perhaps a movie buff, it’s time to stock up on popcorn and your beverage of choice. The action is just getting started, and it looks as though it may come fast and furious.

The hyperbole associated with the ACA has been pervasive. Despite it, there is clear evidence that tens of millions more people are insured, children get to spend more time on their parents policies, pre-existing conditions do not result in disqualifying individuals for coverage, and the rate/pace at which the cost of health insurance premiums increase has slowed. When these pints are taken into consideration, we are left with…House Republicans Vote to Repeal the Affordable Care Act: A Prime Example of Public Officials Taking Action Not in the Best Interests of the Citizenry!”

I’m done; holla back!

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