UPDATE 11:43 am ET
We are delighted that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is disputing the story that attributed to her a statement that ObamaCare is "here to stay." READ HERE FOR MORE
While Democrats seeking re-election are running away from ObamaCare as fast as they can, Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, whom we consider otherwise a bright light in Washington, D.C., has limped unnecessarily towards a reluctant acceptance of the tragically flawed overhaul of one-sixth of the American economy.
She is the number four ranking Republican in the House. She is seeking re-election from the state of Washington.
She made headlines saying that ObamaCare is here to stay, though it must be reformed. Her throwing in the towel in a fight that increasingly looks winnable for those who care about better health care was a kick in the gut.
Here at some length is what McMorris Rodgers said, as reported by Washington state’s Spokesman-Review newspaper:
With the news this week that more than 600,000 Washington residents have acquired new health care plans through the state exchange, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said it’s unlikely the Affordable Care Act will be repealed.
“We need to look at reforming the exchanges,” the Eastern Washington Republican said Thursday.
The five-term congresswoman and chair of the House Republican Conference kicked off her re-election campaign this week with visits to Walla Walla, Colville and Spokane. She faces Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas.
McMorris Rodgers has been part of the Republican leadership in the House that has voted multiple times to repeal parts or all of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. GOP members have said the law is unworkable, will increase costs for some and force others into inadequate coverage or plans they don’t want.
McMorris Rodgers continued those criticisms Thursday, but said the framework established by the law likely will persist and reforms should take place within its structure.
“It is a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to health care,” she said. Consumers should have more choice for their coverage, and Democrats should abandon the idea that everyone will enroll because of the mandate, McMorris Rodgers added.
The congresswoman also said that the 85 percent of enrollees who received Medicaid coverage is a sign the program is not sustainable and many will receive subpar care.
“You’re seeing where they’ve had to reduce programs for the very people it’s meant to help,” McMorris Rodgers said. “Somebody’s going to have to pay the bill.”
Yes, she is still critical of the Affordable Care Act, but she has accepted it as a fait accompli.
That is all Democrats have wanted all along. Once it is accepted, they can get down to business of tinkering with it. They undoubtedly feel that, based on their own very high fortitude quotient, that they'll win that battle, too.
The sad thing about McMorris Rogers’ capitulation, which empowers ObamaCare supporters, is that it comes at a time when an increasing number of reasonable people see ObamaCare as moribund.
A consensus seems to be emerging that not only was ObamaCare a terrible mistake, it can’t stand. Republicans have over the years put forth patient- and free-market-based alternatives. This could be a golden opportunity for real reform. So it is now that Rep. McMorris Rodgers decides to say, in effect, that the President is right in his far-fetched claims that the ObamaCare debate is “over.”
In fairness, I want to cite PJ Media’s Rick Moran’s more sanguine take on what McMorris Rodgers said:
McMorris Rodgers is only giving voice to what most of the GOP leadership and many rank-and-file Republicans believe privately: even with a GOP takeover of the Senate, there are not enough votes to override the expected presidential veto of any repeal effort. It would take 66 votes in the Senate to repeal Obamacare and most of those Democrats who might consider voting to override Obama’s veto would have been defeated in 2014.
What about 2016? If the GOP can hang on to the Senate — no guarantee with so many Republicans running that year — and win the White House, it would be possible to scrap most of the ACA as long as Republicans had some kind of alternative that would lessen the blow for millions who will have subsidized insurance through the state exchanges. Obamacare infrastructure would have to be excised with a scalpel, not an ax, in order to prevent a collapse of the health insurance industry.
It can be done — must be done — and McMorris Rodgers is only stating what is possible. She will suffer for it, no doubt, but I’m sure she knew that when she made the statement.
Still, McMorris Rodgers sounded to me like the counsel of despair—unnecessary despair at that.
Recognizing that post-Affordable Care Act reform will have to be done in a way that doesn't collapse the healthcare system seems, at least to me, quite different from proclaiming, ever how reluctantly, that ObamaCare is here to stay.
Democrats, who must be loving it that a repeated voter for repeal has said what she said, will likely seize on McMorris Rodgers’ words as a sign of bipartisanship. The result is likely to be something else. The disastrous shutdown of the federal government stemmed in part from a feeling among many in the GOP that, once elected and living in the hothouse world of Capitol Hill, their leaders inevitably surrender in battles they could win.
McMorris Rodgers isn't the only member of GOP leadership who seems willing to make a mockery of past votes for repeal by folding on ObamaCare and giving the disaster a new lease on life. Some in the GOP leadership seem to think that they've come to Washington to provide "less bad" alternatives to Democratic proposals. You've got a bill on "equal pay," they seem to reason, well, we can put forward have a less bad bill on "equal pay." Instead summoning the courage to win, they go for the less bad. Unfortunately, in the case of ObamaCare there is no good less bad. It is a disaster and if the GOP leadership folds, the media may well get the internecine strife in the GOP that they've been promoting for many months.
McMorris Rodgers is a talented politician, a rising star, and an extremely appealing woman. But it can't be glossed over that this is disappointing.