In any 2,800-page law, there are bound to be some provisions that are both popular and workable. Those that work would certainly be preserved.
But the real wallop of ObamaCare is coming, and David Axelrod was wrong when he said on Meet the Press on Sunday: “I think that health care, over time, is going to become more popular.”
He echoed comments from Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, who actually wrote the health law, as he tried to calm his angry constituents at a meeting in Montana by saying, “Mark my words: Several years from now, you are going to look back and say, ‘Well, that wasn’t so bad after all.'”
It is hard to see how it is going to get more popular with the tsunami of changes the law commands: The hugely-unpopular mandate that individuals must purchase expensive government-approved health insurance or face fines… The trillions of dollars in new spending on entitlement programs… The expensive mandates and regulatory burdens on American businesses, states, and the medical profession… Cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program… $500 billion in new taxes and fees that will stifle innovation and force health costs to go even higher…
Some Democrats already are backing away from key parts of the legislation. Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, one of his party’s leading experts on health care and someone who voted for it, is trying to free his state from the grip of ObamaCare. He wants to dump the individual mandate, the centerpiece of ObamaCare, and is encouraging his state to seek a waiver to “come up with innovative solutions that the Federal government has never had the flexibility or will to implement.”
Other Democrats have voiced strong concerns about the sustainability of the new long-term care program, the CLASS act, and some are joining and even leading an effort to repeal the provision requiring 1099 filings for all business purchases totaling $600.
So it’s not just Republicans but also Democrats who have serious problems with the law. Seeking bipartisan support to repeal key provisions of the law is a good beginning.
Here are some key steps the next Congress could take in the short term to minimize the damage from ObamaCare:
• Dismantle it. Look for provisions that Democrats oppose where it could be possible to garner a veto-proof majority of support, such as the 1099 filing requirement and the long-term-care CLASS Act that dozens of Democrats are on record as opposing.
• Defund it. Target the most unpopular provisions and just don’t fund them, such as hiring 16,000 more IRS agents to enforce the mandates in the new law.
• Delay it. Postponing cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program and putting off $500 billion in new taxes would be a good place to start until the whole law can be repealed.
• Disapprove regulations. The Congressional Review Act gives Congress leverage to review the avalanche of new regulations to implement ObamaCare and to shine a light on the most egregious ones.
• Direct oversight and investigation. Former CBO Director Doug Holtz-Eakin estimates subsidies for health insurance could cost as much as $1.4 trillion, not $450 billion as promised. Congress has a responsibility to protect taxpayers from the flood of new red ink.
The real problem that the White House has is this: The law is hugely unpopular, and the news is only going to get worse. The more people learn about the law, the more they will support repeal.
Published on National Review Online Expert Blogs: Health Care, September 13, 2010.