As I blogged the other day, Republicans snuck in a “fix” for the Affordable Care Act. They did this, it seems, by getting many in Congress to vote on a law without reading it!
According to the New Republic, at least some Republicans who would have voted against the provision were actually happy it passed:
While negotiations were ongoing, the Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, darted on to the House floor and, after brief consultation with Democratic leaders, cleared the Medicare “doc fix” by voice vote—a procedure that’s typically reserved for fast tracking uncontroversial legislation. The yeahs and nays were not recorded. A bill that divided the GOP conference, and might very well have failed in front of God and everyone under the leadership’s own rules, had passed the House before many Republicans even knew what Cantor was up to.
He and other Republican leaders have been busily making amends with conservative rank and file members ever since. Those members were understandably furious about the breach of protocol, but some were privately grateful that the bill had passed—even if they would have voted against it had Cantor not done a shady end run around them.
Of course, “some” might only mean two. The New Republic has an agenda—to make the Affordable Care Act seem unrepealable. Thus the title of the piece, “House Republicans are quietly giving in to Obamacare.”
But while I’m not sure this trend is as strong as the New Republic wants readers to believe, it does seem that there is such a trend. The New Republic actually went so far as to agree with Matt Drudge!
But when the Associated Press laid it all out on Sunday—including the fact that GOP leaders sought the fix at the behest of powerful business organizations—Matt Drudge freaked out and accused Republican leaders of “expanding Obamacare.”
Republican leaders rejected that interpretation, noting that what they actually did was repeal a provision of the law, in a way that redounds to the benefit of small business owners.
But Drudge has a point, too. The change will make expanding coverage under Obamacare marginally easier. And to the extent that it helps small business owners, it weakens the already splintering coalition of interest groups and movement leaders who support repealing the law in its entirety.
The article spells out the Democrat strategy for keeping the bad law. Make repeal look risky enough so that each constituency decides to lobby for small changes in the law to “improve it.” By getting cooperation from leading Republicans, they have moved ahead in that plan.
None of these modifications will substantially change the ACA’s architecture or even smooth its roughest edges. But they badly undermine longer-standing Republican claims that the law is beyond fixing. If parts of it are clearly fixable, and being fixed, then new constituencies will come out of the woodwork seeking changes of their own, and resistance to more substantial ones will become harder to maintain.
Notice how this situation would please many Congressmen. Suddenly we have a new way to make various groups come to us to have us solve their problems. Obamacare becomes a Congress Empowerment Act.
But it is a sick society that has to go to a totalitarian committee to get problems solved. No healthy society functions that way. We need to make it clear in our voting and our advocacy that we want repeal—nothing less.