Nothing so accurately frames the 2012 race for control of Congress as the latest vote by the US House to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The House voted to repeal the measure that dogmatic conservatives dismiss as “Obamacare” shortly after Republicans took control in January 2011.
Since then, they have organized more than thirty separate House votes attacking aspects of the law.
But that was not good enough.
So Speaker John Boehner, majority leader Eric Cantor and the one-note ideologues who make up their House Republican Caucus went through the charade once more Wednesday, as the House voted 244–185 in favor of repeal.
“Thou dost protest too much,” jokes Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-California, as her Republican colleagues organized Wednesday’s vote to show that they are really, really, really opposed to healthcare reform that might serve consumers rather than investors. “The chief justice and four other justices of the Supreme Court of our land have upheld the law for healthcare accessibility for every single American,” continued Eshoo. “And what do the Republicans do, but come to repeal?”
Congresswoman Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin, was blunter. “Same crap, different day. They’ve always been against Social Security, against Medicare, Medicaid. This is just a different day in their history of not wanting to expand the social contract for anybody other than those people who are endowed,” Moore said of the House Republicans. “The success of the Affordable Care Act will reduce profits to their constituencies.”
Of the 244 pro-repeal votes, all but five came from Republicans. (The Democratic votes for repeal—those of Representatives Mike Ross of Arkansas, Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell of North Carolina, Dan Boren of Oklahoma and Jim Matheson of Utah—came from relatively conservative members who represent Republican-leaning states or districts.) All 185 anti-repeal votes came from House Democrats.
What this all adds up to is one of the clearer contrasts in recent American politics.
Republicans are never going to be satisfied until the ACA is repealed—not just by a GOP-controlled House but by a GOP-controlled Senate—and signed out of law by a Republican president.
To make that happen, however, they will have to keep the House, gain control of the Senate and elect a new president.
And the healthcare debate is likely to define whether they succeed.
The Republican fantasy that Americans want to scrap any regulation of health-insurance companies while undermining access to care by women, children and low-income Americans is just that… a fantasy.
Polling shows that Americans want the insurance companies regulated. They want women to have access to reproductive health benefits. They want all children to have quality care. And they want strong Medicare and Medicaid programs.