- The Washington Times
Thursday, March 16, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Congress isn’t going to repeal Obamacare.

That whole Republican-driven mantra that’s been making the media wave since 2010 — the one that blasted Barack Obama as a socialist for signing government health care into law and that vowed a concerted fight for repeal? Bunk. Bull. Boldface lie.


We know this now because we have a Republican-dominated House, a Republican-dominated Senate and a Republican in the White House — a sure, steady path from legislation to law, if there ever was one. And yet we have no bill for full repeal.

The charlatans in Congress, under the leadership of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, have been trying to make the case that the compromise bill they’re bringing is just as good as any ol’ repeal. But it isn’t.

It isn’t a full repeal.

It isn’t what Republicans promised in 2010, when Obamacare first passed, and then again in 2012, and 2014 and, oh, lo and behold, 2016, after achieving the triple-sweep of the power corridors in D.C.

The promises then flew fast and furious, rivaled only by the number of bills Republicans filed to issue a quick death to the then-hated plan. My, how the GOP must have been sighing with relief, knowing full well as they did their bills, with a Democrat in the White House, weren’t going anywhere but the trash heap.

Now that there’s a chance for full repeal?

It’s this, as one Los Angeles Times headline put forth: “Republicans finally have the power to repeal Obamacare, but they’re still not sure how.”

So here’s an idea. If Republicans are content to continue their dithering on how to reel in Obamacare, how to reel back its provisions and how to really kill the whole deal, how about in the meanwhile they introduce a bill that goes right to the heart of the whole health care plan — the facet that brought out the most outrage?

We need a law passed that clearly bans the federal government from forcing Americans to buy health insurance — or anything else, for that matter.

We need this law to clarify that it’s “no-fairsees” masquerading a purchase mandate as a tax.

That, after all, was the entire debate about Obamacare — the constitutional concerns raised by a law that allowed the federal government to dictate to citizens what they had to purchase. Remember the broccoli debates? The ones where Obamacare critics raised the fear that if government could demand citizens purchase medical insurance, then couldn’t government also demand citizens purchase other things for their general welfare, like broccoli?

That notion was scoffed by backers of Obamacare. And it was later twisted and turned during Supreme Court arguments, after Justice John Roberts repackaged the whole Obamacare deal as a tax — unconstitutional in itself, but a necessary rescue, in his had-to-be-partisan mind to keep the signature Obama policy from crumbling.

But all that politicking and court maneuvering doesn’t change the fact that the wickedness of Obamacare, at its root, is it requires Americans — Americans! — to buy something, and in most cases, something they don’t want. After all, if Obamacare was wanted, it wouldn’t have needed to be mandated.

It’s Congress, not courts, that holds the power to create law. And Congress has an excellent opportunity to snatch back that power from the Supreme Court, grabbed as it was by Roberts and the liberal faction who rubber-stamped Obamacare as OK.

If Republicans can’t settle on a repeal plan, they ought at least be able to agree on a generic bill that makes clear hey, here in America, the federal government cannot tell its citizens what to buy.

Then, as the long days of political finagling turn into long nights of partisan wrangling over the fate of Obamacare, Americans will at least get the sense that Republicans haven’t completely caved to political interests — that they’re not completely ducking and dodging constituent interests. Republicans in Congress will have something to point to, something to show, that says, look, we are fighting for your freedoms. We are trying to beat back burdensome government.

Call it a clear public relations messaging.

Call it a surefire means of reigning in any future court that might take it on itself to do a Roberts Redeux.

Call it a preemptive strike against future legislative and court encroachments onto the Constitution and individual rights.

Call it what you want — but the idea is this: In the minds of layman America, Congress has no cause right now for waffling on Obamacare. All the messaging from Ryan’s camp, from the moderate camps, from the establishment camps to be patient — to wait for budget reconciliation steps to work their way through the committee and onto the floor for full House votes, for example — is falling on deaf American ears.

Americans voted for Republicans because they wanted quick Obamacare repeal. Americans voted for Donald Trump because they believed he could usher in quick repeal. Mantras to the contrary only solidify for average American voters what they’ve already believed, to varying degrees, for years: Politicians never keep their promises, they never vote as they’re supposed. So come 2018 and the next set of elections, you know how that frustration is going to play at the ballot box?

Like this: A Democrat, a Republican — in the end, is there really a difference? Wait for it, wait for it. The Democrats are on their way back to the majority.


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