Republican Party's New Obamacare Bill Suggests They've Finally Accepted The ACA
House Republicans are back to doing what they do best: Passing anti-Obamacare legislation. This time, however, the nature of the legislation is very different, and has very different implications. The GOP’s latest proposal suggests that, despite its never-ending public temper tantrums, the Republican Party may actually be on the verge of accepting the legitimacy of Obamacare, and giving up its hopes of repealing the law.
Some back story: Last November, House Republicans voted to repeal Obamacare for the 47th time since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law four years ago. Like the 46 bills that proceeded it, the measure passed the GOP-controlled House, went on to the Democratic-controlled Senate, and landed in the garbage bin.
Now, Speaker John Boehner and his minions understood full well that the Senate wouldn’t even vote on the bill, and that President Obama would never sign it. However, a lot of the Republican base didn’t (and doesn’t) seem to grasp this; many Republican voters retained some hope that the law might still get knocked down somehow, and so Republican leadership in the House passed this legislation to prove to their constituencies that, yes, the GOP is firmly committed to repealing Obamacare (as if this was ever in doubt).
From this perspective, then, it’s not surprising that on Friday, House Majority Whip Eric Cantor unveiled yet another bill that targets Obamacare. However.
Cantor’s latest proposal is way different, because it doesn’t repeal, defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. Instead, it simply requires the federal government to publicly report any security breaches that occur at HealthCare.gov. Despite the fact that there’s no evidence any security breaches have occurred, this is a much more modest proposal. It doesn’t undermine the law in any way, doesn’t reject the legitimacy of the law, and is probably something a lot of Democrats and Obamacare supporters would be perfectly fine with.
In other words, while the earlier anti-Obamacare bills were crafted solely to make a statement — Republicans knew Obama would never sign them — this latest bill looks, at least on the face of it, like it was written to actually implement a policy change. And as a general rule, parties don’t propose minor policy changes to laws that they hate if they have hope that the law may soon be repealed.
It looks like the party is now operating from the assumption that Obamacare is the law of the land. Regardless of whether this most recent proposal passes, from a political standpoint, it's a direct and somewhat shocking rejection of the Tea Party’s “give us repeal or give us death” mentality, which was most recently on display during the futile government shutdown.
Make no mistake: The intent behind this current proposal is to make sure the Obama administration faces an intense public backlash if HealthCare.gov does suffer any security breaches. Republicans are still devoted to driving down the law’s popularity, and the GOP is indeed basing its 2014 strategy on hammering Democrats over Obamacare. That much hasn’t changed.
However, that attitude now seems to be more "look how awful Obamacare is," not "vote for us so we can get rid of Obamacare." It seems as if the party may also be giving up the ghost on actually repealing or even underminding the law, at least for the time being, and if that’s the case, it would represent the party’s single biggest policy shift since Obama was elected five years ago.