On Oct. 14, Breitbart News recalled that Congress once repealed Ronald Reagan’s “signature” health law. The article was inspired by the spurious arguments then being made by Democrats that President Barack Obama could not accept any changes to his own “signature” legislation. One month later, Democrats are desperate to change Obamacare–and the New York Times is exploring repeal, citing the Reagan precedent.
Monday’s article by Carl Hulse covers old ground but draws a new “lesson”: that Obamacare will not be as easy to repeal because it provides widespread benefits–unless “you get a few white-haired women to jump on the hood of someone’s car.” The reference is to an infamous protest against the late Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, then chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, at a meeting with seniors in Chicago.
The organizer behind that protest was Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who is now one of Obamacare’s champions and who infamously promised to “put the private insurance industry out of business.” Her husband, convicted felon Robert Creamer, is one of the chief strategists behind the law and is responsible for the idea, popular among Obama advisers that, once enacted, it would be impossible to repeal.
(Full disclosure: I ran against Schakowsky in the 9th district of Illinois in 2010. And lost.)
The Times is wrong to suggest that Obamacare’s benefits would protect it (they could easily be provided for in another bill). But it is correct that Republicans have a window of opportunity to repeal Obamacare before the 2014 elections. Democrats would love the opportunity to make 2014 a referendum about who has the best health policy going forward, as opposed to who is responsible for the mess called Obamacare.
Perhaps, taking a lesson from Schakowsky, Republicans need a few more Tea Party-inspired, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)-style initiatives to sharpen public opposition to the law. Regardless, the fact that the New York Times is now talking about the precedent for repeal suggests that repealing Obamacare may be well within reach.