Dog bites man — Missouri Republicans don’t like health care reform

DOG BITES MAN — MISSOURI REPUBLICANS DON’T LIKE HEALTH CARE REFORM…. As with the procedural court decision in Virginia this week, conservatives will probably be inclined to see yesterday’s vote on Proposition C in Missouri as an important development. But as with Virginia, it’s really not.

Missouri voters on Tuesday easily approved a measure aimed at nullifying the new federal health care law, becoming the first state in the nation where ordinary people made known their dismay over the issue at the ballot box.

The measure was intended to invalidate a crucial element of President Obama’s health care law — namely, that most people be required to get health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Supporters of the measure said it would send a firm signal to Washington about how this state, often a bellwether in presidential elections, felt about such a law. […]

The referendum, known as Proposition C, was seen as a first look at efforts by conservatives to gather and rally their forces over the issue. In the end, though, the referendum seemed not to capture the general population’s attention. Instead, Republican primary voters (who had the most competitive races on Tuesday) appeared to play a crucial role in the vote’s fate.

If this was about “sending a signal,” then we’ve learned a valuable lesson — Republican primary voters in a “red” state are inclined to believe right-wing rhetoric about the Affordable Care Act. Wait, did I say “valuable” lesson? I meant, “painfully obvious.”

Yesterday was a primary day in Missouri. There were no major Democratic contests, and reform proponents in organized labor and the health care community made almost no effort to rally voters in opposition to the ballot measure. As a result, roughly two-thirds of those participating were Republican primary voters — making the outcome quite predictable.

As for the practical implications of this, state voters can’t invalidate a federal law. For that matter, courts will likely have weighed in on the subject of the individual mandate — which was, by the way, a Republican idea — before it takes effect in 2014.

All told, this was a symbolic “victory” that everyone saw coming, and which will have no meaningful effect on the policy itself.