Monday, March 22, 2010

Questions 2: Repeal

Two or three people asked some variation on whether the Republicans will really run on a demand to repeal the bill.

Well, as I've said, the main thing to expect is that Republicans will campaign against the health care system.  As they did with the economy from January 20, 2009 on, they will attribute every insurance premium hike, every medical error and every bureaucratic nightmare with insurance forms to the new law, beginning as soon after passage as they can.  Really -- someone gets a cough, and Fox News will run an hour-long special about how Obamacare caused it, complete with Beck's sobbing analysis of how the Progressives caused the Great Influenza and Sarah Palin's cutesy gibes at the liberalmedia for ignoring this critical story and picking on her (kids, wardrobe, diction, whatever). 

Will they explicitly call for repeal?  My guess is will feel heavy pressure (self-inflicted or otherwise) to follow whatever Rush & Co. say, and there's certainly competition among the talk show hosts to be the most rejectionist at all.  And in a campaign context, it's even easier to call for repeal, followed by passing simple common sense steps to eliminate pre-existing conditions, etc. than it was in a legislative context; there's no threat of them having to submit an actual proposal, or having it scored by CBO.  Certainly, Republican activists and primary voters believe that the new law is incredibly unpopular (and will probably continue to believe that regardless of polling), and so they will not believe that a "repeal" position is dangerous in a general election.  So, all in all, I do think the odds are good that many GOP candidates will run on repeal in 2010, and probably in the 2012 presidential nomination process as well. 

The centerpiece, however, is going to be attacks on the health care system.


  1. I think your foresight is basically spot on. But I don't think that a campaign against HCR is a recipe for GOP success.

    Outright repeal of HCR is out of the question. No conceivable anti-incumbent wave in November could take the GOP high enough to repeal HCR, at least not in the Senate. Furthermore, a lot of what is in the new law will be popular. If Republicans were sensible, they would campaign on changing how health care reform was funded, talking about lifting the tax burden on businesses. That is something they could accomplish with even a slim majority in congress, through reconciliation, or by enlisting the help of conservative Democrats. But sensible Republicans? That might be a stretch.

  2. When has the unpopularity or impossibility of a campaign plank ever stopped Republicans from running on it? This is the party that ran against treating non-Anglos and women with respect for 40 years and is still running on the proposition that all immigrants from south of the Rio Grande should legally be second-class citizens, if not barred from citizenship entirely. I would go so far as to say that the impossibility of a policy is, to the Republicans, a positive trait.


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