Handicapping the Bipartisan Vote to Repeal ObamaCare

Handicapping the Bipartisan Vote to Repeal ObamaCare

This afternoon, the House of Representatives will vote again to repeal ObamaCare. The vote comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s surprise ruling that, while ObamaCare is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, it is permissible under Congress’ “taxing power.” As ObamaCare is perhaps the most unpopular legacy of Obama and the Democrat Congress, repeal will pass easily. The only question is, how many Democrats will vote for repeal?

Lefty journalists and pundits are already spinning that today’s repeal vote is simply “symbolic” and a bit of “political theater.” Well, ok then, sure. It is “symbolic.” But, symbolism is a very important part of politics. When Reagan urged Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” his words carried no power, but they sent a strong signal to freedom fighters everywhere and put America firmly on the right side of history. When Obama said he personally supported gay marriage but approved a state’s right to ban it, his words had no affect on the legal status of gay marriage. But, the gay community marked the policy shift as a major advance for their cause. So, symbols do matter in politics. 

With just four months to go before elections, today’s vote will provide voters an easy guide to who continues to support ObamaCare, even in the wake of the Court declaring it a tax and polls continuing to show the law is deeply unpopular among independents. Almost no Democrat members or candidates campaign in support of ObamaCare. They generally try to argue that, with the Court’s ruling, it is time to “move on” to other issues. Its a good time to call that bluff. Consider it a symbol with electoral teeth. 

A couple weeks ago, 17 Democrats voted to hold Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to release documents related to DOJ’s cover-up of Fast and Furious. This was significant, because the media had willfully done all it could to ignore the story. Yet, in today’s new world media order, the information still gets out and the public was well aware of the scandal. Vulnerable Democrats took note. To me, that vote is the over/under line for today’s repeal vote. 

If less than 17 Democrats vote for repeal–and there are at least two dozen Democrat incumbents vulnerable this Fall–then the party has resigned itself and gone all-in behind the toxic legislation. With this result, the GOP will probably net a few seats in November. If, as I expect, more than 17 vote for repeal, it will be further confirmation of the deeply flawed political calculus behind the law. I can’t think of any comparable Republican legislation which had to be disavowed by members in competitive races. 

So, yes, today’s vote is purely symbolic. Its also the stuff campaigns, and congressional majorities, are built on. 

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