A New Strategy to Take on ObamaCare

August 30, 2013

The question of how the GOP should handle ObamaCare has of late been dominated by those who want the party to strip funding from the law, then shut down the government unless President Obama agrees. The Defund Republicans aren't a large faction of the conservative movement, and their plan is deeply flawed. Their strength has been in exploiting the notable lack of alternate strategies for undercutting the unpopular health law, says Kimberley A. Strassel in the Wall Street Journal.

That's changing. A swelling coalition of conservative activists (card-carrying members of the "repeal ObamaCare" campaign) are lighting up the movement with a different approach. The plan aims to leverage public support, play on Democrat weaknesses, and, most notably, sidestep a shutdown fight that would damage the GOP even as it failed to kill the law. Meet the "Delay Coalition."

  • The rallying cry of the Defunders is that this moment is the GOP's "last chance" to put the brakes on ObamaCare. Yet by that very logic, the GOP strategy had better offer a chance at success. Shutdown doesn't.
  • Obama and Senate Democrats will never agree to tank their signature achievement.
  • The White House is salivating over the chance to pin a shutdown on Republicans, since honest polls show the public is opposed to shutting down government over ObamaCare.
  • Even the Defund ringleaders admit (at least in private) that this fight isn't going to end with a defunded law.

The Delay strategy is at least aimed at an achievable goal. Its outlines are contained in a letter engineered by Heather Higgins, CEO of Independent Women's Voice.

  • The letter was crafted with the aid of influential repeal activists and now has more than 40 signatures.
  • The letter calls on congressional Republican leaders to use one of this fall's legislative fights to impose a one-year delay of ObamaCare's individual mandate, exchange subsidies and taxes.

The political calculus is that delay, unlike defund, pushes Democrats to do something that many are already inclined to do. The president himself has endorsed delay for key parts of the bill -- the employer mandate, out-of-pocket-caps, income verification requirements. Unions, the bedrock of the liberal base, are demanding wholesale changes in the law.

Source: Kimberley A. Strassel, "A New Strategy to Take on ObamaCare," Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2013.

 

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