Thursday, September 26, 2013

That's Really The Point Of It All

George F. Will wrote yesterday

The government should not be closed; the debt ceiling will be raised. Republicans should, however, take to heart the last words of H.L. Mencken’s summation of Theodore Roosevelt: “Well, one does what one can.” Republicans can give Democrats a ruinous opportunity to insist upon unpopular things. House Republicans can attach to the continuing resolution that funds the government, and then to the increase in the debt ceiling, two provisions: Preservation of the ACA requirement — lawlessly disregarded by the administration — that members of Congress and their staffs must experience the full enjoyment of the ACA without special, ameliorating subsidies. And a one-year delay of the ACA’s individual mandate.

The GOP would love to delay the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.  Chris Van Hollen- though he won't admit to it- understands why a delay in implementation of the health care law would be political gold for the Repubs.  Ezra Klein explains

The individual mandate "compromise" is also looked on with some derision. Republicans assume that it will be attractive to Democrats because the policy is unpopular. But they haven't thought through the way the law works. "If you were to delay just the individual mandate, the premiums would jump much higher," says Rep. Chris Van Hollen. "That would sabotage the entire purpose of the exchange."

When Chief Justice Roberts in 2012 fashioned the majority opinion which saved the individual mandate, he rejected the commerce clause (basis of much progressive legislation) as its justification while striking down the Medicaid provision.  And liberals/Democrats hailed the decision and conservatives/Republicans criticized it, all because the individual mandate was upheld.  If the individual mandate were delayed, premiums rise precipitously, the exchange would lose support and favor and the Affordable Care Act would be doomed.

And that is the point of the GOP strategy.    Two days ago, Digby noted that prominent Republicans, including actor and conservative activist Ronald Reagan, strenuously fought creation of Medicare

But by and large, conservative opposition was muted. Once Medicare was passed, conservatives didn't choose repeal of Medicare as their hill to die on, nor did they decide to attach Lyndon Johnson's name to the program in an attempt to destroy both. And that's how today Republicans can try to claim with a straight face that they are the true defenders of Medicare. Few today would know that when Medicare was first introduced, it faced angry opposition.

Imagine if Republicans had taken up the full politicized revolt against Medicare that they have against the Affordable Care Act. If they had, LBJ would be remembered more for "Johnsoncare" today than for the Vietnam War, and his face might adorn Mount Rushmore. Every election cycle for a generation or two, Democrats would take great pains to remind voters just how much the opposition had stood against Johnsoncare, preferring to see the elderly die in misery and squalor. 

Democrats own Obamacare. Republicans know it.  Republicans have been willing, and appear willing yet again, to destroy the nation's economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.   Sabotaging the Affordable Care Act and with it, health care for tens of millions of Americans, is- at worst- mere collateral damage.

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