Slackers Versus Tax Cuts

One of the fine political games of Washington is the shadow show put on regularly by Republicans about what they’ll do with respect to the popular provisions of ObamaCare if they are repealed by a gleefully triumphant GOP Congress or struck down by a gleefully reactionary 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s a game because you can’t just pick and choose these provisions like a la carte items on a menu; but since most Americans don’t know that it’s entirely possible to pretend you can.

Here’s Rep. Allen West (per Think Progress’ Scott Keyes) just yesterday:

You’ve got to replace it with something. If people want to keep their kid on their insurance at 26, fine. We’ve got to make sure no American gets turned back for pre-existing conditions, that’s fine. Keep the donut hole closed, that’s fine. But what I just talked to you about, maybe 20, 25 pages of legislation.

You can’t actually do that without an individual mandate, tougher federal or state regulation of insurance companies, and big sacks of money, but even the suggestion alarmed Allen West’s ideological keepers, notes TPM’s Sahil Kapur:

Conservative advocates are displeased that Republicans are privately weighing a replacement plan that involves reinstating popular elements of the health care law — including its coverage guarantee regardless of pre-existing conditions, the ability to remain on a parent’s plan until age 26 and provisions that close the Medicare “doughnut hole.”

FreedomWorks and Club for Growth, two powerful conservative interest groups that are fresh off of purging the Senate’s longest-serving Republican for insufficient fealty to the right, are flexing their muscles.

“The Club for Growth supports complete repeal of Obamacare. And complete doesn’t mean partial. It means complete,” said Barney Keller, a spokesman for the group. “We urge the so-called ‘tea party’ Republicans to keep their promises to voters and continue to fight for complete repeal as well….”

Dean Clancy, who leads health care advocacy for FreedomWorks, said the group “would be very concerned about bills to resurrect parts of Obamacare.”

He said Republicans should take no responsibility for the broken system that would result.

“It would be the height of folly for Republicans to say, OK, this is our problem now,” he said. “It’s not the Republicans’ fault if 25-year-old slackers suddenly are dropped from mom and dad’s health insurance policy.

I do love it when conservatives comes right out and say the things they believe: The Democrat Socialists encouraged all these dope-smoking punks to mooch off their folks, so why is it our responsibility to take care of them when they ought to be out there working for subminimum wages? We’ve got high-end tax cuts to enact!

In the real world it doesn’t much matter whether Republicans admit they don’t give a damn about the problem of inadequate access to health care, or pretend they do but just keep coming up with reasons they can’t do anything about it or need to first enact provisions (e.g., interstate insurance sales) that actually move in the opposite direction. But when they debate in public which tactic to pursue, it does provide progressives with an opportunity to turn on the lights, expose the game, and watch them scurry for cover.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.