The misguided repeal crusade picks back up

THE MISGUIDED REPEAL CRUSADE PICKS BACK UP…. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) lectured President Obama last week during an interview with ABC. “It’s time to grow up and get serious about the problems that face our country,” Boehner said.

With that in mind, Boehner’s House Republican caucus returned to work yesterday after a two-week break, ready to “get serious about the problems that face our country.” What’s up first? Maybe a jobs bill? Ideas to lower gas prices?

No, the first order of business was passing a bill to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans insist the health care repeal effort hasn’t jumped the shark — but even they admit the bills they’re pushing through the House Tuesday aren’t exactly the biggest repeal votes they’ve taken.

The bills are getting smaller and narrower — going after shrinking slices of President Barack Obama’s health care law, rather than the whole thing. The main one on Tuesday’s agenda, which passed the House 238-183, repeals the mandatory funding for the state-based health insurance exchanges.

Today, they’ll follow up, voting to repeal funds for building school-based health centers.

There are a few problems with this. First, House Republicans are working hard on legislation they know can’t pass the Senate and won’t be signed by the president. Second, it’s tricky pretending to “get serious about the problems that face our country,” while at the same time ignoring actual problems and investing time and energy in bills that won’t become law.

“They come back this week and instead of focusing on jobs they’re going to be voting to take away more Americans’ health care and do nothing to grow our economy,” a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said.

And third, if Republicans were somehow successful in this little endeavor, and they cut off funding for state-based health insurance exchanges, the result would be increased federal control over the exchanges — which is presumably the opposite of what the GOP wants.

Indeed, the whole effort is pretty odd. The bill isn’t going to pass anyway, but just looking at it on the merits, the Republican measure would eliminate grants to help the states establish health insurance exchanges. But if states fall short in creating exchanges, the executive branch steps in to do the work for them.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s not the president who needs to be reminded about “getting serious about the problems that face our country.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.