Republicans have cited three reasons for not supporting the strategy outlined in Senator Lee’s letter; 1) the war is already over, Obama won and the ACA is the law of the land, 2) the timing is bad because Obamacare will eventually fall of its own weight, and 3) we’re only going to get one crack at this and this particular strategy is destined to fail.
Point one: Wars typically end when one side surrenders. This capitulation is a little early, even for Republicans. The debt ceiling fight gives Republicans some leverage .While it will not result in a repeal of Obamacare, it will provide Republicans some leverage to extract cuts in ACA appropriations. There are parts of this bill that even Democrats would like to torpedo or defer until after the mid-terms.
Point two: No government entitlement program has ever fallen of its’ own weight. In the real world, the opposite happens; entitlements survive. The rosy fiscal projections are proved wrong and the only remaining fight is over funding the shortfall.
The third argument has a tiny bit of merit. This is the Karl Rove position. Unfortunately, Mr. Rove’s solution is to wait for a better opportunity. Come January 1, 2014 Obamacare will have beneficiaries. Any chance to overturn or curtail Obamacare spending ends the day that the subsidies go into effect. If Obamacare then implodes, it will saved by single payer. Single payer was the ‘failsafe’ position all along (or perhaps the intended outcome).
The Lee strategy would play better if it was accompanied by a serious proposal to change the tax code. We should make all individual medical expenditures payable with pre-tax income. This would guarantee the continued availability of high deductible, major medical policies. In addition, the tax benefit would free up dollars that could be used for current healthcare needs.
A fictional character once observed that “when her mother was faced with a decision, she didn’t know whether to shit or wind her watch.” One way or another, time is running out. Republicans need a better strategy than fold and hope.