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Thu Nov 13, 2014, 06:04 AM

An Obamacare thought experiment

Note: the following is not a prediction of what will happen, nor a recommendation that it should happen. I raise it only as a hypothetical.

At this writing the conventional wisdom is that the Repub majority in Congress will move quickly to repeal Obamacare, and that President Obama will veto the action. From the Repub point of view, why not? It looks to them like a win/win. Their action has no real consequences, and they retain a weapon to batter the President with over and over.

But What If....

What if, instead of vetoing their bill, the President called their bluff? What if he went on national television to announce, “Through their elected representatives in both houses of Congress, the people have spoken. They clearly want the Affordable Care Act, and its state implementations like Kynect, to be repealed. Accordingly, with a heavy heart, I will sign this bill into law. I will be in touch with Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell to schedule a signing ceremony.”

Obviously, the Batshit Crazy wing of the Repub party (Bachmann, Gohmert, et al) would celebrate. But what about the Organized Crime wing (Boehner, Ryan, et al)? Might they not see their beautiful win/win scenario changing before their eyes into a lose/lose? All of a sudden, their action has real-world consequences. They will have taken away health insurance away from tens of millions of Americans, and even allowing for the near-zero attention span of the American voter, those millions will remember who did them real – and serious – injury. (The voters might want to punish Obama too, but he’s never going to be a candidate again, and such an action on his part might give the 2016 nominee some space to separate from him, if it’s desirable by then.)

But the only alternative to angering (and deeply injuring) millions of voters would be to appeal (probably back-channel, since anything else would require courage) for Obama to veto their own action. But at that point, Obama can hold firm on the grounds that the bill was duly passed by both houses of Congress, and he has no reason to veto it. However, he could add, if both houses have changed their minds, they can send a memorandum asking him not to sign the bill, but to let it die. At that point, Obama holds all the cards. He can say that he’ll be glad to entertain such a memorandum after the Senate has confirmed his nominees for Surgeon General and Attorney General. Then, if the memorandum is signed by a majority of both houses, and if it contains a pledge that there will be no further discussion of repealing or defunding the ACA for the remainder of the 114th Congress (with serious stated penalties for any violation), he will entertain the memorandum. He might even require additional conditions like both-houses passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

It seems to me that that course forces the Repubs either to do serious and immediate injury to millions of American families (alienating voters nationwide), or to back down, surrender to the President, and give up some of their best weapons to him, losing face in the process.


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Reply An Obamacare thought experiment (Original post)
Dale Neiburg Nov 2014 OP
customerserviceguy Nov 2014 #1

Response to Dale Neiburg (Original post)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 08:20 AM

1. If that were to happen

I have absolutely no doubt that the Rethug Congress would get any "credit" that came out of it, and that the President would get 100% of the blame from those who would oppose the move. Your scenario smacks of the National Lampoon's cover from forty years ago, where a revolver is held to a dog's head, and the caption read, "Buy this magazine, or we'll kill this dog". I cannot see the President doing that.

In any case, it's not going to happen. There will be a vote to repeal, and it will be vetoed. What will be interesting to see is when the Repukes start attaching their ideas to essential legislation, like annual budgets and that sort of thing.

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