Lordy, Lordy. Obamacare Repeal Vote 40

What could Republican lawmakers possibly be thinking as they make yet another attempt to derail Obamacare? Wendell Potter explains.

On what is always one of the busiest days of the year for members of Congress – the day before they begin their August recess – the House of Representatives is wasting time and taxpayers’ money by voting yet again today to repeal – you guessed it – ObamaCare.

It’s a waste of time and money because everybody in Washington knows this 40th repeal effort won’t be any more successful than the previous 39.

Folks, there’s not a snowball’s chance that the creatively named “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013” will get anywhere close to President Obama’s desk. And even if hell does surprise us all by freezing over today and the bill somehow did make it through both the House and Senate, you can rest assured Obama would veto it the second it arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

While not an outright repeal like some of the previous bills the Republican-controlled House has approved, the “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act,” sponsored by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) would nevertheless derail ObamaCare by prohibiting the tax-collecting agency from playing any role in implementing the reform law.

Because millions of low- and middle-income Americans will be eligible beginning next year for tax credits to help them pay their health insurance premiums, the IRS will play a significant role in making the law work. Price and many of his colleagues have made it abundantly clear they don’t want it to work – and will do whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t work – and if depriving their constituents of the ability to be able to afford coverage is the price to pay for gutting ObamaCare, so be it.

But Price is not going to succeed. He is on a fool’s errand.

So the logical question to ask is, why? Why have we now had 40 votes to keep a law that was passed more than three years ago from being fully implemented?

Here are three reasons, in no particular order.

  • Blind ideology and party loyalty – Republican lawmakers were advised by their strategists within weeks of Obama’s election in 2008 to oppose any health care reform bill the Democrats came up with, even if it contained Republican proposals (as ObamaCare does). They felt they would be able to mount a successful PR campaign to turn the public against Democrats and reform by using the tried-and-true propaganda tactics known as “FUD” – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Believing that it is in many Americans’ DNA to fear and loathe “government bureaucrats,” those strategists felt they could win votes and control of Congress by calling reform in any iteration “a government takeover of health care.”
  • Believing your own PR – Having been a PR guy, I know how easy it is to begin accepting as gospel the stuff you and your PR experts are saying even if you’re privately skeptical the first time you’re told to memorize them. If you and your colleagues repeat the talking points often enough, you’ll eventually drink the kool-aid. Group think sets in. Eventually, no member of the team will dare question the veracity of said talking points.
  • Pandering – Politicians have pandered for votes for as long as there have been politicians. Most of the current GOP House members are in very conservative districts, and many of them represent districts that have been so gerrymandered that the only real threat to their reelection is another Republican claiming to be even more conservative. Even though voting 40 times for something that doesn’t have a prayer of becoming law does not seem logical, it does when you consider the important role that pandering plays in keeping “the base” happy.

There you have it, the 40th repeal vote explained. Keep in mind that if Obama were a Republican, Democrats very possibly would be doing what the GOPers are doing today in what has become a hyper-partisan Washington. It hasn’t always been this way, it doesn’t have to be this way, but it’s the way it is right now.

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