Republicans Will Soon Stop Talking about Health Care

The Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), particularly Justice John Roberts siding with the liberals, took most everyone by surprise this morning. But if you tune in to Fox News or surf around the conservative blogs, they seem to be taking it somewhat philosophically. They're not happy, but there's little rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. Mostly they're saying, well, we'll just have to win this in November (see here for a representative sample). There's also a good deal of discussion of the fact that the Court declared that the requirement to carry health insurance is permissible under the government's taxing power. After all, if there's one thing Republicans know how to do, it's complain about taxes. Mitch McConnell quickly took to the floor of the Senate to condemn the decision, and no doubt Mitt Romney will soon say something so vague that no one can determine what he actually thinks.

But here's my guess: Republicans are going to drop health care very quickly. They took their shot with the only avenue they had to kill the ACA, and they came up short. The legal battle is over, and they know that once they start talking about repealing the whole thing, it makes it easier to talk about the benefits of the ACA that will be repealed, particularly since they have given up on even bothering to come up with a "replace" part of "repeal and replace." Oh, they'll still condemn the ACA when they're on Fox, or when they're talking to partisan audiences—just enough to reassure base conservatives that they're still angry. But in short order, they're going to move on to other topics now that the legal question has been settled.

That suits Mitt Romney just fine. You may remember that when the primary campaign started, many people said it would be impossible for him to become the Republican nominee, given that he had passed a health-care plan so closely resembling the ACA in Massachusetts, complete with an individual mandate. He managed to wriggle and writhe away from questions about it for the last two years. Those questions are no more comfortable than they ever were. As the leader of the GOP, he'll set the agenda for the party. And there are few things he'd rather talk about less. We'll pore over this decision for the next week, then the news media will move on, and Romney will breathe a sigh of relief.

Comments

Republicans in the media are pushing that "he promised no new middle-class taxes, and this is a new middle-class tax." I wonder if this campaign-ready spin is why Justice Roberts went along with it.

I think you're misreading the contemporary Republican party. Today's party is not dominated by people who believe in rational debate or even rational decisions. They are opposed to universal health care. Period, full stop, end of sentence. They are also prepared to do and say anything necessary to hurt Democrats and especially Barack Obama. I think they'll pursue it for months of horrible, painful public debate. We're not dealing with people who believe in compromise or civil discourse. We're dealing with screaming ideologues who bleieve compromise means you feel bad about giving me why way.

I disagree vehemently if by Republicans you mean conservative "thought leaders" like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and the Tea Party set. This is a make or break issue for them and in their madness they are willing to commit political hair-kari over. Let's face it, a third of the country lives not just in another country but in another universe. There is no reasoning with them. They hold such deep-seeded irrational beliefs that this is just another in a series of betrayals woven into some as yet unclear conspiracy.

It would, no doubt, behoove even Mitt Romney to drop his attacks on Obamacare for he does leave himself exposed politically. But even with Romney, there is too much hay to be made in whipping up the froth of rabid mad dog conservatism. While we on the left have to live with Old Yeller's barks, they, on the right, have to live with Old Yeller's bite. It is a world, however, the GOP establishment choose to make for in eschewing compromise they have only entrenched extremism.

Here is Tony Perkins of the FRC talking today:

"We're right to be disappointed and frustrated by the Court's decision, but it was Congress that did this to begin with. It was Barack Obama who did this to begin with, so I think we've got to go back and put this around them, making them responsible for something that almost 70% of Americans oppose.

We do have a way to correct this, and it's called the election in November. And folks, I'm going to tell you, if you're apathetic and you think "well, I'm not going to vote because I've got a choice between this one and that one and there's not that much difference," there is a difference! Barack Obama is responsible for this health care bill which is going to strip you of your rights as an American citizen in the ability to make your own decisions. It is an infringement upon religious freedom. We have rationing boards that are going to be put in place. These are not seeds, this is a time-bomb of destruction for our nation and President Obama is responsible for it."

Does that sound like someone who is going to stop talking about Obamacare? Mind you, he is wrong on his facts and he's utterly delusional in his paranoia but those are trademarks of modern radical conservatism.

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