The Republican leaders in Congress have mostly defined themselves by what they're against, but now they've announced what they're for -- the most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
I can only imagine the political identity crisis this is causing within the GOP. Their hallmark is opposing anything the President supports, even if it started as a Republican legislative proposal, and now they've plunged themselves into a partisan political abyss of their own making: they are supporting the key provisions of the president's signature legislative achievement, a law the Republicans have derisively and incessantly called "Obamacare" for two years. It turns out that the party realizes that may not have been such a good idea. So they're now pretending to come up with what amounts to their own version of Obamacare.
As Politico reports: "If the law is partially or fully overturned they'll draw up bills to keep the popular, consumer-friendly portions [of Obamacare] in place -- like allowing adult children to remain on parents' health care plans until age 26, and forcing insurance companies to provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Ripping these provisions from law is too politically risky, Republicans say."
These provisions are not just popular and central to the law. They are among the few elements of the ACA that are inextricably tied to and, some say, dependent upon the individual responsibility provision, also known as the individual mandate. Yet the Republicans and their extremist friends in the corporate special interest crowd are challenging that provision and the entire law at the U.S. Supreme Court. You can call this irony or hypocrisy or both.
The simple fact is that Obamacare expands coverage to more than 30 million people and eliminates the worst insurance company abuses for those of us with coverage. It stops insurance companies from denying our care and jacking up our rates whenever they please. Apparently the Republicans have noticed that these things are good and popular with voters.
The GOP's political schizophrenia was evident in the quick backtrack by Speaker John Boehner and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, who responded to the Politico report by stridently saying they would repeal the entire law, no matter what. Recognizing the political quicksand he was entering, Ryan offered uninsured families a single strand of hope: while the GOP has no intention of crafting actual legislation that could help actual people, which the ACA does every day, the Republicans may deign to share their "vision" with the huddled masses.
Republicans' political back-flips are staggering and make Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, look consistent by comparison. While telling their diehards they're repealing Obamacare in full, they're misleading the public and telling them they can keep the provisions that protect them from insurance company abuses. Many of the Obamacare provisions the Republicans say they'd like to keep are ones that are already in effect. If the court were to fulfill the desperate hopes of Republicans in Congress and overturn Obamacare, the Republicans would then try to immediatelly reinstitute much of what the court will have overturned. That's stunning and bizarre.
For two years the Republicans have promised to "replace" Obamacare as part of their non-stop repeal campaign. A fake plan like this is hardly a "replacement."
Just like their promise to protect Medicare, the talk about preserving the good stuff is an election year lie. The Republicans will always put the big corporations before the consumers they represent. They have an extremist agenda, and they're pursuing it at all costs. They've been driving an assault on women's health care, on health care in general, on every program central to the goal of opportunity and shared prosperity for all. Now that the election is getting closer, their right-wing agenda doesn't seem like such a great idea.
Boehner's words show that the GOP has discovered that hating the people they represent is bad politics. But how can the party reconcile that realization with its fundamental desire to do whatever big corporations say? They have to lie to the voters.
The Republicans in Congress and Mitt Romney will never do anything to help the middle class. They want to end Medicare as we know it. They support insurance company discrimination against the sick. They are waging an enthusiastic war on women and students and middle-class taxpayers. They want to give massive tax breaks to the 1 percent and protect outrageous things like big tax subsidies for the oil companies. Anyone inclined to entrust our nation's health care to this duplicitous party that exists to front for people who have grown rich off the status quo should remember that.