December 4th, 2015

Senate repeals Obamacare and defunds Planned Parenthood

Yes, this happened today, too:

By voting to nullify Obamacare — the signature domestic accomplishment of the Obama administration — GOP congressional leaders fulfilled a longtime pledge to voters and rank-and-file members to get a repeal to President Barack Obama’s desk, even though he will veto it.

Republican leaders also want to send an unmistakable message to voters: If you elect a GOP president next year and keep the them in charge of Congress, Obamacare will go.

Those conservatives who have come to hate the GOP won’t believe this is anything but meaningless theater. I happen to disagree, and I agree with Jeff Sessions here:

“It demonstrates that if you have a president prepared to support health care reform, it could pass next time,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act who insisted this was not a show vote just because the President will veto the bill. “If this vote occurred after the next presidential election, instead of vetoing it the President would sign it. This would force a bipartisan reevaluation of health care in America and put us in a position to make major changes.”

You might ask: why now? Why is it that this was finally done, when previous efforts have come to naught? I don’t know the answer, but here’s the “how” it was done:

While the House and Senate have voted scores of times to repeal portions of Obamacare, this was the first time they are using a special tool known as “budget reconciliation” that allow the measure to clear the Senate with just 51 votes instead of the 60 votes typically required for major legislation. That higher threshold has allowed Democrats to block all past repeal efforts.

By steering these two hot-button issues into the reconciliation bill, Republican leaders also steered them away from a separate must-pass government funding bill Congress is dealing with now known as the omnibus. Had those controversial issues been included in that bill, it would have made even harder to pass before the December 11 deadline when the government could shut down.

If it was the House, I’d say perhaps it’s connected with the departure of Boehner and the installation of Ryan. But since it’s the Senate, I’m really not sure. I think it should have been done long ago, when it might have helped conservatives start trusting Republicans (a teeny bit, anyway) to do what they say they will do. As for the veto, I don’t see any way around that, and I don’t see that there ever will be while Obama is in office unless a lot of Democrats turn on him, which I don’t think has a chance of happening.

20 Responses to “Senate repeals Obamacare and defunds Planned Parenthood”

  1. Oscar Plenty Says:

    Come on now, this is a pathetic gesture to stem the Trumpageddon. That you don’t see that is why you are…

  2. Ed from Ypsilanti Says:

    “budget reconciliation” is the tool that allowed Obamacare.
    Without it, it would not have passed.

  3. snopercod Says:

    Don’t get all excited just yet. McConnell allowed over 40 amendments at the last minute and I don’t have the energy to go through all of them. The bill will have to go back to the House, which passed a watered down version earlier. Hopefully, now that Boehner is gone, the House will adopt the stronger Senate version. Obama will veto it, of course, and then blame the Republicans for “shutting down the government”.

  4. mollynh Says:

    Let Hollywierd pass the hat amongst their monied & privleged elites to fund the promiscuous lifestyle they feel everyone should aspire to

  5. Oscar Plenty Says:

    non-sequitur says “what”?

  6. F Says:

    I like to think Ryan is far more serious than Boehner, and I have a pretty high confidence level that he will be proactive in working to design a replacement system. That and just freeing up the system to allow insurers to work honestly should go a long way to giving us an alternative system. My own inclination is toward expanded Medicaid that is seriously means-tested and a catastrophic program for the rest of the population. Don’t try to force the young and the healthy into a one-size-fits-all plan, and don’t insist that 65 year old nuns pay for abortion coverage. Those were the real obvious flaws in Obamacare, and symptomatic of a program that was designed to be punitive.

    I think if the industry sees that they have a chance to design coverage that gives people good value for their premium dollar, they might go for it. If, on the other hand, they see that crony capitalism will play favorites for a middling political donation, they will go that way. How can you blame them for that? It makes economic sense.

    Two things have to happen now: the Congress has to lead the way in the development of a rational system that is not destructive of the health care system, and the providers have to see that it is in their best interest to work it honestly instead of seeing it as a cash cow. Those are big “ifs”, but I have far more confidence that Ryan can pull it off than that Boehner — or Obama and Pelosi — ever would.

  7. PatD Says:

    Whoop-de-doo.

  8. Bellarion the Fortunate Says:

    They passed this because they know Obama will never sign it, and they hope to mollify Trump’s supporters. It’s an election year. If they had fought then, they wouldn’t be facing a voter revolt now. This is a symbolic vote cast by people who regard their voters as dupes.

  9. blert Says:

    McConnell was feeling the heat from both Rubio and Cruz.

    McConnell is terrified of Donald Trump.

    But, then, so is the GOPe.

  10. Eric Says:

    Bellarion the Fortunate: “If they had fought then, they wouldn’t be facing a voter revolt now.”

    Or, viewed another way, the GOP has only now been provided some measure of a needed ingredient to fight by the “voter revolt”.

    The fresh activism being brought to bear by the alt-Right Trump movement, while targeting the GOP, has apparently infused some measure of a long-needed political ingredient that has been missing for the GOP due to the self-imposed shortfall of competitive activism by the negligent mainstream conservatives of the Right.

    Meanwhile, at the same time the rejection of the activist method by the Right has deprived the GOP thus logically resulting in competitive failure, the competitive Left has fully embraced the activist method to logical success across the spectrum of participatory politics while taking over the Democrats.

    Beggars can’t be choosy. Albeit the infusion of alt-Right activism is volatile and adversarial, the activism-starved GOP has signaled a positive response to the added ingredient.

    If the mainstream conservatives of the Right wish to gain control the GOP like the Left now controls the Democrats and marginalize the insurgent alt-Right and the Trump movement, the way is clear: mainstream conservatives must collectively, fully, and permanently commit to the activist method across the spectrum of participatory politics in order to compete sufficiently to win the activist game – the only social cultural/political game there is.

  11. formwiz Says:

    Idiot Boy will be mad when he sees this on the news.

  12. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Yup, it’s salve for the ‘troops’. The obvious question is why the same rationale Sen. Sessions advances does not also apply to the plethora of bills that a truly conservative GOP would be sending to Obama.

    Of course Sessions rationale does apply.

    The GOP’s behavior reveals their motivations.

    The ‘desperation of hope’ is the motivating factor for those conservatives who cling to the illusion that eventualy, somehow, the GOP will awaken.

    But they cannot accept that their status, money & power will ever fail to protect them from consequence. That insulation allows them to tell themselves that denial of reality equals protection from reality’s consequences.

  13. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    You write, “The obvious question is why the same rationale Sen. Sessions advances does not also apply to the plethora of bills that a truly conservative GOP would be sending to Obama.

    Of course Sessions rationale does apply.”

    What’s this “of course” business? I’d say, “Of course, Sessions’ rationale does NOT apply.”

    The only reason that this bill could get past the 40-vote cloture threshhold was that it could be passed by reconciliation because of its nature. Most bills don’t fall under the reconciliation process.

    Now, you might say they should jettison the cloture process; throw it away. I have argued the pros and cons of that in earlier posts, for example here. At this point, I’m slightly in favor of their throwing it away, but only slightly for reasons suggested in that post (for example, it’s a huge step and they are giving up something that might come in useful later on, and only gaining the ability to send bills to Obama for him to veto, which would be another form of kabuki theater).

    But no, in order to pass most of the bills you’re talking about, “the same rationale” as this one does not apply. It’s a different rationale.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Bellarion the Fortunate:

    So, you believe they passed it because they know Obama would never sign it.

    That seems absurd to me, even for someone who thinks the GOP are generally spineless collaborators. They have not been collaborators on Obamacare.

    As far as Obamacare goes, if you look at the history of its passage in House and Senate, there is little question that at the time the GOP did whatever was possible to stop it. They were outmaneuvered and outnumbered by the left, but it’s not as though they didn’t try everything available to them, including the Scott Brown election.

    Since then, they’ve never shown any particular love of the bill or desire to keep it. You or I may quarrel with them in the sense of they’re not doing everything you might like them to have done, but it always was absolutely inevitable that Obama would veto.

    So, are you really suggesting that if Obama wasn’t committed to veto it, they would not have passed this, because they really want Obamacare to stay as is? I’m not a big fan of the GOP in Congress, but I have seen zero evidence of this. I think the weight of the evidence is that, if there were a Republican president who would approve the bill, they would definitely get rid of Obamacare as is and almost certainly pass some other more market-oriented form of health care reform.

  15. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “The only reason that this bill could get past the 40-vote cloture threshhold was that it could be passed by reconciliation because of its nature. Most bills don’t fall under the reconciliation process.” neo

    “Reconciliation is a legislative process of the United States Senate intended to allow consideration of a budget bill with debate limited to twenty hours under Senate rules.”

    This Republican majority Congress could have sent far more bills to Obama had not the GOP recently caved to Obama on the budget bill.

    Instead of selectively defunding the entitlement and regulatory State, they caved into compliance with the democrats.

    The cloture process must be thrown away because it is only useful when both parties abide by the rules and place the good of the nation above ideology. Clearly, neither is the case with the democrats.

    The purpose of sending bills to Obama that we know will be vetoed is twofold; a) it formally places before the nation, in writing, conservative alternatives to the democrats prescriptions and narrative and b) it defuses the democrat’s charge that the GOP is obstructionist.

    Currently, the GOP are co-conspirators in the destruction of America. Desperate to retain power, they are throwing the base a bone to appease a fed up base.

  16. snopercod Says:

    @ F:

    “Congress has to lead the way in the development of a rational system that is not destructive of the health care system”

    In your dreams. The main thing that is killing the health care system is that from 1/3 to 2/3 (in some locations) of patients pay the doctors and hospitals nothing. It’s outright theft, pure and simple, but our government enables it. We need to do two things to stop this theft: 1. Eliminate “anchor babies” altogether (and/or secure the border), and 2. Restate EMTALA to emphasize that you only get treatment in a true emergency, and it’s not “free”. You have to arrange a payment plan with the hospital when you leave. The law won’t let college students default on their loans, and the same should apply to “free” medical care in the ER.

    Unfortunately, nobody in congress is willing to stand up and tell the 47% , “Pay for your own damn medical care!” so as I see it, the medical system in America is screwed no matter what.

    Tort reform and buying insurance over state lines is just tinkering around the edges of the problem.

  17. raf Says:

    Imagine for a moment that Obama did sign the bill. The insurance market is thrown into chaos during an election year. The leftist base is energized, the media harp on it all year, Hillary trumpets how cruel and uncaring and incompetent the GOP is….

    All in all, we better hope Obama vetoes it.

  18. blert Says:

    raf Says:
    December 5th, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Imagine for a moment that Obama did sign the bill. The insurance market is thrown into chaos during an election year. ….

    Nothing would take effect next year.

    So the rest of your thesis falls utterly flat.

    As for chaos — it’s ALREADY HERE.

    The numbers don’t add up. So the industry is backing away.

    Like Romneycare, all of the original assumptions were bogus.

  19. raf Says:

    @blert:

    You underestimate the power of propaganda. Even if the repeal wouldn’t take effect until 2017, it will be THE major campaign issue. And that message will be that Dems are needed to restore/protect/reform sensibly because the evil Reps will let it all go away. That message will be omnipresent. Grannies will be pushed over cliffs again, poor children will suffer on television.

    If Obama vetoes, the issue frames as Dems refuse to do anything to fix health care. I would rather fight on that field.

  20. Obamacare | Congress |repeal | replace Says:

    […] I wrote about the prelude to the current move back in early December. At that point, something different had occurred in the Senate, not just the House, even though McConnell was and is still in charge in the Senate. The mechanism by which it occurred was reconciliation, the hair of the dog that bit them: […]

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