I’ve been pushing the idea that Republicans don’t really care very much about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), even though they hate Obamacare. So my question is this: suppose that President Mitt Romney (or even Rick Perry) puts together a Heritage-endorsed package that entirely repeals Obamacare, and replaces (the president would say) the government takeover of health care, the death panels, and the rest of it with state-based Free Enterprise Marketplaces where private health insurance companies would use good ‘ole American competition; Ronald Reagan Means Tested Vouchers to allow everyone to get insurance, and tax credits for everyone who signed up for any sort of health insurance.

In other words, for those of you not actually versed in the policy: what if Romney replaced Obamacare with ACA?

Oh, there would be differences: they would keep, probably, regulation against the most egregious insurance company practices, but they’d relax some of it, and the subsidies would probably be worse; on the other hand, the participation tax credits (replacing the mandate but functioning the same way) could be set higher than the penalties in ACA. Oh, and the GOP version would in fact probably give up on most of the cost-cutting stuff in ACA, and therefore produce a huge negative swing in the federal budget. In other words, it would be a Republican version of ACA.

Would Republicans be willing to go along? Would Democrats? Would everyone be willing to pretend that the Romney plan was entirely and totally different than what the Democrats had passed?

Yeah, I’m mostly just having fun with it, but really — how many Republican Members of Congress could be fooled into thinking that the new Romney plan was totally different?

[Cross-posted atA plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

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