The U.S. House of Representatives voted 245 to 189 yesterday to repeal Obamacare. Every Republican cast a vote for repeal, and three Democrats crossed the aisle to side with them. Back when the original health care bill was being passed, garnering so many votes from the opposition party would have been hailed as bipartisanship by the Democrats.
But last night’s vote is being hailed by Democrats and the mainstream media as only symbolic. Yep, they hate it, even as they go out of their way to dismiss it as meaning little more than a resolution acclaiming strawberry week or recognizing letter carriers. “Democrats are deriding last night’s House vote to repeal ObamaCare as ‘symbolic,’ and it was, but that is not the same as meaningless,” notes the Wall Street Journal.
If it is only a symbol, then it’s a potent one. But I agree with the Journal that it is much more: with yesterday’s vote, the move to undo an enormously unpopular piece of legislation, passed with arm twisting and the use of raw power by the 111th Congress, is now officially underway in the 112th Congress. The momentum is with repeal. We saw that yesterday. Add to that the news that more than half the states in the Union are now party to a lawsuit in federal district court in Florida challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare and you don’t need to be a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing.
One of the interesting things I’ve noticed is that the supporters of Obamacare are now running advertisements on TV (message: Republicans are meanies), trying to sell the legislation. Hey, I thought you sold legislation to the public before passing it. Better still, only pass legislation of which the voters approve. Those who rammed health care reform through Congress without preexisting voter support got it backwards. Now they are desperately trying to sell the dog food.
The Wall Street Journal comments on the meaning of the repeal vote:
The stunning political reality is that a new entitlement that was supposed to be a landmark of liberal governance has been repudiated by a majority of one chamber of Congress only 10 months after it passed. This sort of thing never happens.
More House Members-245 in total-voted to rescind the new entitlement than the 219 Democrats who voted to create it last March. That partisan majority narrowly prevailed over all 178 Republicans and some 38 Democrats. The three Democrats who favored repeal yesterday confirmed the bipartisan opposition to the kind of vast new social program that historically has been built on a national bipartisan consensus….
It’s also telling that even many Democrats are now bowing to the public mood, conceding that the law needs fixing even if they oppose outright repeal. No less than President Obama declared that “I’m willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act. But we can’t go backward.” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday that Democrats are “open to better ideas.”
Karl Rove also has a good column on the repeal vote, noting that the more we know what’s in the Obamacare legislation, the less we like it. It is likely to be an albatross for Democrats as long as it is around, but repeal would give us as a nation a chance to do what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act did not do: improve health care for all of us and bring down the costs.
Other GOP initiatives-like allowing people to save more of their paychecks tax free for out-of-pocket medical expenses, and letting small businesses pool risk to get the same discounts that big companies get-are similarly popular. President Obama said after the midterm election results that “he’d be happy to consider . . . ideas for how to improve” health care. Fortunately, Republicans have a ready agenda with widespread public backing.
Democrats have traditionally been more trusted than Republicans to deal with health care. They enjoyed a 34-point margin in 1991 and a 25-point margin as recently as 2005. But the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that Republicans are now tied with Mr. Obama on the issue. It was not just the GOP’s strong opposition to ObamaCare that closed the gap, though that was essential. It was also the Republicans’ early efforts to sketch out a conservative vision of health-care reform.
Democrats are squawking about this week’s House vote because it signals the start of a Republican offensive on health care, not the end of one.