The Republican-led House of Representatives will do something today that it has already done an estimated 30 times in the last three years: It will vote to repeal Obamacare.
And just like with every other time, the vote will be meaningless. As before, it will pass the House and not even come up for a vote in the Democratic-led Senate. And even if by some miracle it passed the Senate, President Obama would veto it.
Since the polls tell them that President Obama’s healthcare law is unpopular with the public, the Republicans want to get it on the record one last time before November’s election that they don’t like the law, in case the public hasn’t been listening. Since the Supreme Court surprisingly ruled to uphold the law two weeks ago, the Republicans have been put on the defensive. So today’s vote is more of a psychological exercise to get the Supreme Court decision off its back.
“As a psychiatrist, I’m qualified to say this,” said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. “One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The game is over. The referee, John Roberts, blew the whistle. It’s over, guys.”
As some observers have pointed out, it’s been three years since the Republicans offered up anything that resembled an alternative to Obamacare. House Republicans generally acknowledge this, but they say that’s only because they want to keep attention focused on the unpopularity of Obamacare. In other words, they don’t want to confuse the public with ideas that might be equally unpopular when they can get significant traction by just attacking Obama.
“This is nothing short of economic malpractice,” said Rep. Nan Hayworth of New York, citing tax increases, government mandates and other items in the law. “We can and we must do better.”
But when pressed by reporters on what she was talking about, Hayworth demurred. No point in explaining what and how the Republicans would do differently. Not when the polls tell them to just keep criticizing the law that’s already been passed. Similarly Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney says he will move to repeal Obamacare his first day in office. But he doesn’t talk much about what he would replace it with. The reason the country had been trying to pass healthcare reform for a generation is because health costs are growing at an astronomical rate and threatening to swallow the federal budget. Something needed to be done to lower costs, which is one of the outcomes of Obamacare in the longterm—that it would reduce the federal deficit by more than $120 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Romney hasn’t explained to us where he would get $120 billion in savings. Neither have Congressional Republicans. Of course it’s always easier to attack than to create solutions. That seems to be the mantra of the Washington politician these days.