Health care and ‘the next two years’

HEALTH CARE AND ‘THE NEXT TWO YEARS’…. It’s safe to assume that House Republicans will, sometime next year, launch some sort of effort to “repeal” the Affordable Care Act. The White House is already signaling today that it’s open to compromise on a variety of fronts, but this repeal nonsense is a non-starter.

At his press conference this afternoon, President Obama noted in his opening remarks, “[W]ith so much at stake, what the American people don’t want from us, especially here in Washington, is to spend the next two years refighting the political battles of the last two.” Health care wasn’t mentioned specifically, but likely was what he was referencing.

It came up again soon after, with a reporter asking whether the ACA “is in danger at this point,” given GOP support for scrapping the law. The president reiterated:

“Well, I know that there’s some Republican candidates who won last night who feel very strongly about it. I’m sure that this will be an issue that comes up in discussions with the Republican leadership. As I said before, though, I think we’d be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years re-litigate arguments that we had over the last two years.”

What’s more, not long after the press conference, the White House sent around some talking points, making clear the president has no intention of letting the GOP roll back this milestone legislative accomplishment.

“It would be a mistake to spend the next two years re-fighting the political battles of the last two years. The President is proud of the progress we have made for average Americans — from health care reform, to financial reform and reforms to our education system. While he has always made it clear that he is open to ideas from both sides of the aisle to improve these important new laws, he will not accept attempts to repeal or weaken them.”

A couple of angles to keep an eye on here. The first is that the president clearly doesn’t seem inclined to budge on this. If Boehner & Co. think Obama will be pushed around on health care, and that with the right leverage, repeal is an option, they’re mistaken.

The second is this general framework: re-fighting the battles of the past is a mistake. I get the sense the White House is working on a larger message here — all Republicans want to do is fight over things that happened in the past, instead of focusing on the future — which may come up quite a bit in the coming months.

This isn’t to say health care tweaks are out of the question, and the president brought up “the 1099 provision” today as “something that we should take a look at.” But the underlying message to Republicans intending to push for some wholesale overhaul seemed to be pretty straightforward: don’t bother.