Friday, March 18, 2011


As expected, this is the second installment of a continuing item. The House is going taking a break for a week, so it's time to check in on Republican promises that the "repeal" vote back in January was only the first step in a repeal-and-replace agenda.

So how's that "replace" phase going? Not so much. Still haven't seen a bill, yet (it's possible someone has introduced something, but certainly no high-profile launch). What about (as promised) committee hearings to develop a new bill? Nope.

As I did last time, I checked with the three main committees that might be holding hearings. Ways and Means had a hearing on health care fraud, but there's no indication that it's in the context of developing a bill. Energy and Commerce had two hearings about ACA implementation and funding (here and here), both of which would be appropriate to a strategy of amending and improving ACA but utterly irrelevant to replacing it. Ed and Labor...sorry, Education and the Workforce held a hearing on employer health care costs, which seemed from the subcommittee press release to be focused mainly, again, on bashing "ObamaCare" and its supposed "government takeover of health care."

Now, I should note that subcommittee Chair Phil Roe did hint in that press release that replacement was still on the agenda. And it's still only been two months. But, at least as I can gather from the materials on the various committee web sites, replace is still just empty rhetoric, primarily employed because polling shows that repeal-only is massively unpopular.


  1. But they haven't and won't get to repeal anyway. Why work on replace if repeal is a non-starter?

    -would be their argument, if they had one.

  2. Because they pledged they were going to?

  3. Jonathan, do you have a general score card of Republican promises vs. promises kept?

    A decade ago, they were promising a return of ethics, and they gave us Tom DeLay. They promised sound fiscal management and they gave us Medicare Part D, the wars in Iraq and Iran, and tax cuts.

    Except for the 'tax cut' part, I really don't see much that they've promised and delivered; at least since the Clinton years. And promises that have been kept (tax cuts) have broken other promises (fiscal responsibility). Some promises -- restraining activist judges -- have resulted in activist judges who've opened the doors to corporate/special interest in elections. Other promises -- strong defense -- have weakened our military (Iraq and Afghanistan wars).

    I'm presuming you keep better score then I do; but I really want to know what record of promises made that Republicans have bothered to keep? For from my perspective, they live by the mantra, "Do what I say, not what I do."

    And just to be fair and balanced, I'd love to see such score card for Democrats, too.

  4. Promises that Republicans have kept? Well, there's Medicare D, and NCLB. Promises the GOP kept when the president was a Democrat? Welfare reform.

    That's just off the top of my head.

    But in case you haven't already, you should take a look at Politifact's tracking of Obama's promises as well as the GOP Congress's.

    Obama fulfilled an unusually high number of promises in his first two years in office. According to Politifact, the GOP Congress has fulfilled two promises so far: cutting the Congressional budget, and requiring a bill to include a clause explaining its constitutionality.

    Of course, given that Dems control the Senate and the White House, the GOP's prospects for legislative success compared with Obama's in his first two years are pretty limited.

  5. Ah, but my point is that if Democrats promised, oh, card check, and they didn't get it only because of the filibuster in the last Congress, and every Democrat voted for it, but it still that a promise unkept?

    Or, should they be faulted for promising something they couldn't deliver? I don't think they should. As you so often note, the representation relationship is based on a sort of contract between the individual rep and their constituents. If a member ran on repeal and replace, and they voted for repeal, isn't that upholding their part of the bargain? Because they didn't run on replace only. Since repeal isn't going anywhere through no fault of their own, how are they bound to do the replace?

    (Note: I'm playing devil's advocate here, but it's a serious question about representation from a system that has both aggregate (party) and individual (member elections) forms of accountability, which seriously muddle the representation question.)

  6. I agree that it's problematic to blame people for not passing a bill when they may or may not have the ability to do so. However, in this case Republicans have called for "replace" for twelve months without really any clue about what that would mean -- and, even more to the point, they specifically said, upon passing their repeal bill, that they would hold hearings and develop a replace bill. In other words, they have do have the ability to make good on this one all by themselves, and they haven't.

  7. I don't think it's problematic blaming people for not doing something they promised because they're unable to.. I think it falls under the heading, "don't let your mouth write checks your ass can't cash." If politicians have to make empty promises that's bad news for US politics but it doesn't excuse their being part of the problem.

  8. But at least the dems could be giving them hell about it! One minute speeches, tv shows, etc. Have the dems even mentioned this at all? Anyone......anyone.....Beuhler.......


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