Patterico's Pontifications


Repealing Obamacare: Good Tactics Even Though It Can’t Happen Now

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:10 am

The first Republican bill in the new House will be to repeal Obamacare. Good idea? I think it is.

Krauthammer says you don’t try kill the king unless you know you can succeed. In other words, ObamaCare must die, but the current Republican tactics for doing so are counterproductive, and will end up hurting the long-term effort to repeal it.

Another faction, populated largely by types who gain their real-world experience by surfing the Internet from the comfort of their homes, says tactics don’t matter. Principles demand that Republicans try to repeal ObamaCare at every available opportunity, regardless of tactical wisdom.*

I think both camps are wrong. Tactics matter. PRINCIPLES!!! don’t require you to ignore tactical concerns. But, contrary to Krauthammer, I think that trying to repeal ObamaCare now makes for good tactics.

No, it’s not going to actually happen while Obama is president. But as a wise correspondent wrote to me:

Democrats call it political theatre since we won’t see this in the Senate and Obama would obviously veto it. But I suspect there will be adverse appropriations consequences for ObamaCare. In addition, think about what this will mean in national Senate races in 2 years. Every Senator and Senate candidate will be asked for their position on repeal and replace, and the Tea Party/GOP will be able to make that a litmus test for candidates.

This is a really smart move by the GOP.

I agree. My correspondent sends, as Exhibit A, the case of Claire McCaskill. Gateway Pundit quotes a site we’re boycotting here:

Speaking on MSNBC Wednesday morning, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill suggested that Democrats should ditch the individual mandate required in President Obama’s health reform law.

It’s a proposed amendment to legislation she supported that’s deeply unpopular in Missouri just as she ramps up for a challenging reelection bid.

“There’s other ways we can get people into the pool — I hope — other than a mandate, and we need to look at that,” McCaskill said Wednesday morning on MSNBC.

It’s good tactics to get people on the record about how they feel about ObamaCare. Because the PRINCIPLES!!!! crowd might be short on experience and long on self-righteous blowhard spokesmen, but they are right about one thing. The question of what happens to ObamaCare is critical to the type of country we are going to have: one based on the concept of Government as Catering to All Your Needs . . . or one based on individualism and freedom.

27 Responses to “Repealing Obamacare: Good Tactics Even Though It Can’t Happen Now”

  1. A note about the stay-at-home conservative heroes and their view of tactics:

    If you call them on it, they will claim they care about tactics, too — it’s just that the best tactic is ALWAYS to try to repeal ObamaCare at every available opportunity. In reality, they don’t care about tactics because they consider such real-world questions beneath them.

    Framing this in terms of “principles,” of course, implies that Krauthammer lacks principles, simply because he has a different view of the tactics that should be used to achieve what we all want. This is the typical position of the stay-at-home crowd: if you don’t go balls-out all the time on every issue, regardless of political reality, then you don’t really care about the issues as much as they do. This makes for a great and increasingly popular blogging (or talk radio) style. As a political philosophy, it sounds great until the moment you cross the threshold of your front door and go out into the real world. Since many of these folks never do, this position will always appear to be wonderfully sound.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  2. I agree, Patterico. This vote means that the Republicans can assert that they did what they promised and what a large fraction or even a majority of the American public wants. It makes sure that every bad story about the Obamacare legislation’s failures and unintended consequences is hung around Obama and the Democrats’ necks.

    I never doubt Krauthammer’s sincerity even when I, on occasion, disagree with him. He is a sharp guy so I have to make sure I know why I disagree with him when I do. In this case, I think we are seeing the effects of being too much in D.C. and its insular culture. What I call the George Will Syndrome.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. I agree and we need to institute the Bush reform of social security and the full medicare/medicaid Bush reforms that would have privatized all of our major entitlements

    Keep making the Democrats defend their socialism – remember – they are defending almost 2/3rds of the seats up for election in the Senate – its a given that at least 10 are going to go to the Phant side – lets try to make it 15

    I think if 1/2the remaining house dems either abstain or vote to repeal the Obama care gutting may actually narrowly pass the Senate

    EricPWJohnsonnnn (4380b4)

  4. SPQR

    Do you think Krauthammer has Gingrich syndrome? I think Charles is worried that the new congress will get bogged down in fighting instead of creating solutions correcting the problems

    EricPWJohnso (4380b4)

  5. All good points in the post but I can’t help lamenting the feeling (to me, at least) that it’s a shame the Republican information warfare branch can’t roll the crucial “changing-the-American-character-for-the-worse” meme into the discussion.

    Yes, ObamaCare is a job killer, and yes, reigniting the US economy to reduce unemployment is vitally important, but the long-term threat the nanny state poses to this country is something I wish conservatives could better explain to the American people.

    Take it from a guy who lived in Europe for 8 years, half that time on the economy, and for two years the victim of socialized medicine while in a NATO assignment. The medical care was 40 years behind the US, and damn near killed my wife during her labor with our daughter–and the principal reason we only have one child.

    But even scarier was, to my mind, the complete atrophying of the (in our case) Dutch social structure among individual citizens. Helping our next-door neighbors out with cooking and errand-running, etc., while the wife recovered from the birth of their son was a complete surprise to them. They frankly admitted that this was something they’d never expect from their own family, much less scruffy foreigner neighbors…they relied on the state to do everything, including loaning them house signs announcing the birth.

    I shudder to think how the Dutch population would respond to a real crisis, where individual initiative and character may be the only thing you are left with to survive. I don’t want that to happen to us but it frightens me to think that there isn’t a GOP leader out there that can’t bang that drum during this battle.

    Attila (300c8b)

  6. Well we see how the French acted during that heat wave some 7 years ago or so, not well.

    narciso (6075d0)

  7. “As a political philosophy, it sounds great until the moment you cross the threshold of your front door and go out into the real world. Since many of these folks never do, this position will always appear to be wonderfully sound.”

    Patterico – It’s sort of like Mark Levin foaming at the mouth over not raising the debt ceiling until Paul Ryan appeared on his show this week and calmly explained why it was necessary. Rage boy Levin was meek as a kitten with an adult in the room.

    Louis Farrakhan (e7bc4f)

  8. Can somebody change the screen name on the last comment which went into the filter back to my nick.


    daleyrocks (e7bc4f)

  9. ______________________________________

    Take it from a guy who lived in Europe for 8 years

    Your experience is like observing the canary in the coal mine. Unfortunately, even if a lot of those canaries keel over and drop to the ground, foolish, naive — and actually quite selfish, self-entitlement-crazed — liberal sentiment will continue to plague a good percentage of the human race.

    ObamaCare is merely a preview of the mess we face ahead, as the disease of Greece/Mexico/France/Venezuela/Spain (or California Syndrome) attempts to infect various parts of America. Namely, variations of the following:, June 2009:

    The French economy is propped up and sheltered by the massive French public sector and the welfare state. About two out of every 10 workers in France work for the government. Besides generous unemployment benefits (up to 75% of previous salary), there are many direct payment programs in France (for newborn babies for instance.)

    French regulation is notoriously tight and rigid….the French are champion rule-makers! There are rules about how many pharmacies one pharmacist can own, and how many taxis there can be on the streets in Paris. There are even rules about when stores can have sales – only twice a year on dates set by government!

    Although France’s rate is 8.6%, it is important to note that it hardly ever falls below 8%. Can you imagine what would happen in America if our long-term unemployment rate hovers around 8%?

    The reason for the high rate in France is the burdensome taxes imposed by the French government to fund the generous welfare state, as well as very rigid labor laws. This has created a bifurcated employment market with relatively well paying permanent jobs, protected by strong unions, and unprotected short-term work. This particularly affects younger workers where the unemployment rate for under 25 is 21%.

    Mark (411533)

  10. For the first six years of the GWB administration, everything the Dems did in Congress was framed to create a campaign issue that they could back the GOP into a corner with;
    this is tit-for-tat!

    And, if they dump the individual mandate (as per McCaskill), the entire scheme collapses as there won’t be enough “healthy” participants in the system to fund the care for the ones who need it; and/or,
    the costs of health-care INSURANCE will skyrocket
    unless they also drop the banning of “pre-existing condition” restrictions, since these two are joined at the hip.

    AD-RtR/OS! (3ff3b3)

  11. Comment by Attila — 1/8/2011 @ 10:49 am

    Perhaps how they handled Anne Frank was an anomoly, or the “socialization” of the society just rinsed every bit of individualism and “spunk” out of them.

    AD-RtR/OS! (3ff3b3)

  12. People like me will be glad to remind 2012 voters that the GOP types who vote to repeal Obamacare are also voting to keep people with pre-existing insurance who get laid off from finding individual health insurance.

    Jim (8de501)

  13. “you don’t try kill the king unless you know you can succeed”

    In that case there would have been no American Revolution–or Civil War–or much of anything else in US political history.

    A major emphasis in American democracy with its protections of free speech, assembly, and petition for redress of grievances, is that minorities can become majorities.

    Following Charles, Barack Obama would not have challenged Hillary Clinton in the primaries.

    Nor would Obamacare have been introduced, since it was touch and go whether it would pass. They had to use lots of legislative maneuvers and buyoffs to finally get it enacted.

    Krauthammer’s argument is ludicrous both in political and personal life. As the old saying goes, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

    T D (7d9cc1)

  14. “People like me will be glad to remind 2012 voters that the GOP types who vote to repeal Obamacare are also voting to keep people with pre-existing insurance who get laid off from finding individual health insurance.”

    Jim – Why don’t people like you remind laid off workers about the availability of COBRA health insurance coverage, which covers pre-existing conditions, from their prior employer while they seek new gainful employment instead? Half of people without current insurance coverage are unaware they are eligible for coverage today, but just have not signed up for it. I blame Obama for poor messaging.

    daleyrocks (e7bc4f)

  15. One reason a lot of people decline COBRA is the cost, but that reflects the underwriter’s assessment of pre-existing condition risk (cost).

    AD-RtR/OS! (3ff3b3)

  16. Daley, COBRA only lasts for 18 months in most states. In this enviroment, that may not be enough time to find another job. And companies have to give their employees notice of COBRA availability.

    And AD-RtR, companies can charge ex-employees a 103% of the company’s cost for the insurance(which is determined as a rate for each employee/family on a group basis without consideration of individual circumstances). It has nothing to do with pre-existing condition risk.

    Jim (8de501)

  17. One reason a lot of people decline COBRA is the cost, but that reflects the underwriter’s assessment of pre-existing condition risk (cost).

    Comment by AD-RtR/OS! — 1/8/2011 @ 12:54 pm

    The cost of COBRA reflects the actual cost the employer pays for health insurance and it can be quite expensive. For me the cost to continue COBRA for my wife and I was over $1,400 a month, which is a lot of money for someone on unemployment. Lucky for me, though I have qualms about using it, since I was laid off before April of this year, TARP covers 65 percent of the cost for 15 months. Even with that, my monthly cost went up $70.00 this year. Since I’m on workman’s compensation because of pain in my right shoulder and hand, I get paid more than unemployment and tax free it’s not as much of a problem as it could be. Because they cap the maximum amount you can get, it’s less than my previous take home pay. They haven’t released me to go back to work (which I’d rather do) and I’m not sure what is going to happen when the workman’s comp money runs out and they won’t let me work or I have to work in pain.

    If it was your own money you might shop around for a less expensive policy. Maybe a catastrophic plan with a large deductible to keep costs down. The problem is that Obamacare mandates certain coverage. I don’t believe high deductible plans are allowed under Obamacare. In California you can’t be refused coverage for pre-existing conditions if you already have insurance. Because of this a person can purchase a less expensive policy (maybe a high deductible policy) and continue coverage uninterrupted, though they may have to pay for a month of COBRA while looking for new coverage.

    Tanny O'Haley (12193c)

  18. But of course, COBRA is how you maintain uninterrupted coverage so your pre-existing conditions remain in the state of ‘always having been covered.’

    luagha (8760c2)

  19. #3 Eric: I agree with you about Soc Sec, but privatizing it runs into the same mandate problem that is unconstitutional for Obamacare(Fed’s making someone buy something that they don’t want). Perhaps the solution is good incentives for people to have a private account for themselves so they’ll do it voluntarily, like we do with IRA’s. Let people out of Soc Sec if they have a qualifying private account.

    #14 AD.. Cobra is expensive, but not because of pre-existing conditions (it isn’t allowed to change your status regarding pre-existing conditions) because it is not new insurance. It is a continuation of your previous employer’s insurance in which you pay what the employer was paying plus a small administrative fee that can’t exceed 5% (IIRC). I think you are actually still in the employer’s group until the Cobra ends. The reason it is expensive is because the insurance your employer was providing is expensive!

    Ken in Camarillo (645bed)

  20. The GOP House should repeal Obamacare, pass a balanced budget, and go quite a bit farther than that, simply to respect their voters. It also puts the issues in the ‘possible’ table and creates a clear distinction between parties.

    But I think if they pass those measures linked to the ‘debt ceiling’ increase, with very clear language outlawing a signing statement, it will be very difficult for the democrats to manage that move.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  21. Jim eats boogers.

    JD (ad76b9)

  22. The House will be on the record as supporting the repeal of ObamaCare and the onus will be on the Senate to do something about that vote; otherwise, it’ll be a hammer for the Republicans to use for the next two years (“we passed the repeal of ObamaCare, and Harry Reid won’t let the Senate vote on it!”). Looks like all win for the Republicans and all lose for the Democrats, which explains why they’re whining so loudly about it. As for Krauthammer, I really don’t see his point–taking one vote isn’t obsessive–they vote and move on to other things.

    M. Scott Eiland (27aed4)

  23. Yes, when you find out through COBRA what that bene was actually costing, it should give you a greater appreciation for how much it costs to provide benefits for employees.
    But, in many cases, it doesn’t, and the individual just says that the insurance companies are ripping him off.

    AD-RtR/OS! (3ff3b3)

  24. Nice, JD.

    Jim (8de501)

  25. “Daley, COBRA only lasts for 18 months in most states. In this enviroment, that may not be enough time to find another job. And companies have to give their employees notice of COBRA availability.”

    Jim – Thank you. I am aware of the terms of COBRA. It resolves your beef about preexisting conditions. What it does not solve, which sounds like your real beef, is getting somebody else to pay for your health care coverage. Maybe if we didn’t have a president who was waging a war against business at every opportunity, your concern over the adequacy of 18 months of COBRA coverage would disappear, but your comment at 11 was misleading. Insurance rates are going up because of ObamaCare, in the current market group policies are almost assuredly cheaper than individual policies if they can be found for those with preexisting conditions.

    Tanny is also right that ObamaCare is doing away with the ability to purchase high deductible catastrophic health care coverage.

    daleyrocks (e7bc4f)

  26. Daley–the problem with COBRA has always been the cost: people unable to afford the cost after losing their jobs. That particular aspect of the problem came about long before Obama came on the scene. And while you’re right in the rest of your comment, one does well to remember that insurance rates were going up long before Obama came on the scene as well, (In fact, this year I’m paying slightly less for my insurance than I did last year, and about the same as I did the year before last. However, I’m paying about twice as much in monthly premiums, and a much higher deductible and co-payment, than I did, say five years ago.) So some of the increase is due to Obamacare, and some of it is simply continuation of the long term trend.

    However, Jim’s original comment is good advice: it’s just not enough to repeal Obamacare. The medical insurance in the US has been messed up for a long time, and it’s not enough to simply repeal and return us to the status quo ante. The GOP needs to come up with a viable alternative scheme that it can offer as something better. Simple repeal with replacing it will end up being a loser for the GOP.

    kishnevi (603e17)

  27. “Daley–the problem with COBRA has always been the cost: people unable to afford the cost after losing their jobs.”

    Kishnevi – So your gripe is the same as Jim’s, that what people need is for somebody else to pay for their health insurance. Why not just say it that way instead of beating around the bush. It would be more honest.

    ObamaCare does nothing to reduce costs for the largely healthy population, but it does provide a mechanism of pool insurance for the unhealthy. The mechanisms created by the law in September were only used by 8,000 people, hardly a ringing success, again due to costs. My view is that you don’t wreck the entire system to address the needs of a small segment. Do you disagree?

    daleyrocks (e7bc4f)

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