“Replace”

You know the drill: the House is out this week, so it’s time to check on the progress of the “replace” part of the GOP pledge to repeal and replace Affordable Care Act. Most recent updates here and here; see also Jonathan Chait here.

No surprises; I’m not going to bother to link this time, but I don’t see any sign of replace on the markup or hearing schedules of the three relevant House committees. As far as I know, they haven’t dropped the rhetoric, although there seems to be less of it recently. Apparently Mitt Romney is still using “repeal and replace”; perhaps that’ll be the thing that gets the rest of the Republicans to drop it. It is worth mentioning, also, that since my last update Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin did author a “replace” op-ed in the NYT, but I don’t see any sign of that sparking any action on Capitol Hill.

I’m not sure whether there’s any point in continuing to run these, other than that it’s a fun and easy item to write, as Republicans are basically conceding now that ACA isn’t going to be repealed during the 112th Congress. On the other hand, it’s worth pointing out that a true repeal-and-replace plan might actually have a chance of going somewhere, while the pure (de facto) repeal strategy did not. After all, Barack Obama has been nothing if not flexible in the means of getting to his health care goals of expanded access and cost control. A real Republican alternative that would achieve those goals might not get a full Democratic endorsement, but it really might have a shot at being partially adopted as part of an eventual grand bargain. Remember, Republicans (mostly) say that they share the goals of access and cost control…it’s not really clear they share the goal of universal coverage, but they certainly claim, for example, to share the same goals as Democrats on preexisting conditions.

In fact, their real intent is, as Andrew Sprung said over the weekend, to “repeal and replace” Barack Obama; health care is a secondary at best concern. But I suppose that as long as they claim that it’s their position, I’ll keep running the item.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.