Bipartisanship Starts With Repealing the Health Care Law Democrats Committed Seppuku to Pass

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 30 2012 12:05 PM

Bipartisanship Starts With Repealing the Health Care Law Democrats Committed Seppuku to Pass

James Hohmann and Jake Sherman scoop -- or, in Politico-speak, SCOOP -- Mitt Romney's plans for quick legislative action if he wins the presidency. Plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, quickly, have already been mapped out. That shouldn't be surprising, if you listened to anything Mitt Romney has ever said about the health care law. And:

Repealing the law is a “red line” for most Democrats, according to several lawmakers and party officials. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other top Senate Democrats would bitterly oppose any attempts to pare back the law. Romney would be forced then to overcome a Democratic filibuster, try a risky legislative maneuver or issue an executive order — moves that would be painted by Democrats as a highly partisan gambit.

President Obama actually tried to make something out of this in the first debate. "I think Governor Romney's going to have a busy first day," he joked, "because he's also going to repeal Obamacare, which will not be very popular among Democrats as you're sitting down with them." Nobody noticed.

But just game it out. Romney wins the election, having promised to focus on jobs, but also having promised to repeal Obamacare. His House Republicans want him to repeal Obamacare. The November-December-January span, mostly dominated by "fiscal cliff" negotiations, hums with this side-plot -- will Republicans repeal Obamacare? If Democrats have 51 Senate seats, the Romney effort comes off as totally illegimate, but House Republicans have a bill ready to move anyway, and we waste part of the Hundred Days dispensing with it. Meanwhile, Romney fulfills his promise to grant "waivers to every state," muddling the implementation of the law. It's a booster shot of partisanship and uncertainty, right out of the door. Best case scenario, it's like the 2007 test votes on "defunding the Iraq surge," and everyone understands that they won't affect anything. But an up-down vote on war funding is much less complicated than a war of attrition over the health care law.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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