ObamaCare: Repeal and Replace? Or Repeal and Veto?

House Republican leaders want to repeal ObamaCare. But, even if the GOP takes over Congress, Obama will still have the veto.

John Hawkins got the leading House Republicans (Minority Leader John Boehner, Republican Whip Eric Cantor, Chairman of the House Republican Conference Mike Pence, and Vice-Chair of the House Republican Conference Cathy McMorris Rodgers) to answer some questions on their plans should they retake the majority next January.

All four were “unambiguously for the repeal of health care reform” and all but Rodgers category pledged to support defunding the bill.

The latter is the most interesting since, as John noted, repeal is moot unless a November landslide gives the Republicans 60 Senators.  Which — I’ll go out on a limb here — ain’t gonna happen.

Cutting off funding in the House — Boehner says he would “deny any funding for the estimated 16,500 IRS employees that will be needed to implement ObamaCare” — is a more interesting strategy.   The lower chamber has its most power in the realm of taxing and spending.

But, presumably, President Obama would veto any spending bill that defunds his signature achievement.  And the Republicans aren’t going to have two-thirds support in both Houses for an override.

Are Boehner and Company willing to shut down the government, ala Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton in 1995?  Last time, the Republican Speaker got the public’s ire and the erstwhile unpopular Democratic president cruised to re-election a year later.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Simon says:

    James, with respect, I disagree that it’s moot without a veto override. If we campaign on full repeal in 2010 and follow through by sending a repeal bill to the White house, we force Obama to veto repeal. He then hands us our campaign issue for 2012: “Replace the guy who vetoed repeal.”

  2. Tano says:

    They are in campaign mode. They are saying the things necessary to keep the base ginned-up. I don’t imagine that any of this will effect the course of their political calculations once they actually achieve power (not that I think they will).

  3. Since the Republicans will not have full control of Congress after November, this conversation may turn out to be academic.

    But, I agree with Tano. This is just campaign talk.

  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    Simon says:
    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 12:17

    “If we campaign on full repeal in 2010 and follow through by sending a repeal bill to the White house, ”

    And how does such a bill get through the senate in which you don’t have sixty votes for cloture and probably not a majority.

  5. James Joyner says:

    I think the idea of the Republicans taking majorities in both Houses is not only stopped being crazy talk but borderline probable. There’s still a long campaign ahead, though, and the fact the GOP is going to basically cede WV to the Dems makes it harder.

  6. I’d say more possible than probable, but yea I get the point. Of course, as Joe points out, without 60 votes in the Senate any repeal bill is likely dead.

    Its possibly good as a political ploy to set up 2012, but that’s about it.

  7. Dantheman says:

    “Boehner says he would “deny any funding for the estimated 16,500 IRS employees that will be needed to implement ObamaCare””

    Showing once again that the Republicans will say anything to get their base riled up, and the so-called liberal media never calls them on it.

  8. john personna says:

    Replace, with minimum-insurance health-care vouchers, please.

  9. Brummagem Joe says:

    James Joyner says:
    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 12:35

    “not only stopped being crazy talk but borderline probable.”

    Personally I doubt it but we’ll compare notes in November. Either way since the Republicans have established the convention that you need 60 votes to pass anything in the senate the president isn’t going to get many bills he doesn’t like or can’t veto. I’m also mildy entertained by the idea that the country is going to be behind a repeal as some Republicans fondly believe.

  10. Raoul says:

    To say the GOP is going to take the Senate is crazy talk. In fact- accordong to Nate Silver, is more probable that the Dems gain seats.

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    Replace, with minimum-insurance health-care vouchers, please.

    What, and let people make their own decisions?

  12. Simon says:

    Brummagem Joe, re getting it through the Senate, you’re missing the forest for the trees. If the Senate defeats a repeal bill, that becomes a campaign issue for the NRSC in 2012, just as the President’s veto of the bill (should it pass the Senate) becomes the campaign issue for the GOP in 2012. As Doug indicates, the goal isn’t to repeal Obamacare next year, it’s to repeal Obamacare in 2013 by teeing it up for 2012.

    As to whether ‘the country is going to be behind a repeal as some Republicans fondly believe,” we don’t have to speculate on that point, because polls say that a majority of Republicans and independents support repeal. A majority of Democrats are viciously against it, but that’s neither surprising nor relevant. Now, that and every other opinion poll has to be taken with a grain of salt, but if I was a Democratic strategist, I would feel like I was whistling past the graveyard were I to dismiss a sustained 60% majority for repeal.

  13. ponce says:

    It says a lot about the Republican party today that its leaders lie to America so blatantly.

    But after seeing their deer-in-the-headlights act on Meet the Press last weekend, maybe obvious lies are better than telling the truth for their fading hopes of retaking Congress.

  14. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Simon is the real political scientist here. Any comparison with Clinton and Obama needs to include the fact Clinton, at this stage of his Presidency was still popular, Obama not so much. Also, the healthcare bill that cost the Dems the majority in 1992 was named Hillarycare. This turkey bears Obama’s name. Democrats in the Senate who vote agaist repeal will face reelection in two years. What a fine way to get 60 seats in the senate. Pity the fool who must run for reelction at on the same ticket with Obama. James, unless you can finds some bright spot in what Obama is polling right now, I can only imagine how well he will do when he tries to insist on his agenda after the people have spoken and elected the opposition party. Clinton worked well with a Republican congress which got him reelected. Obama has yet to prove he can work with those who have a difference of policy from his.

  15. Brummagem Joe says:

    John says:
    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 13:15
    “we don’t have to speculate on that point, because polls say that a majority of Republicans and independents support repeal”

    You may be somewhat behind the times since I’ve seen several polls showing a shift against repeal. Not that I pay much attention to polls and certainly don’t think they should be a basis for running the country. If the Republicans want to make repeal of healthcare their central plank for November, good luck to them as they explain on the stump repealing recissions, pre existing conditions, closing the doughnut hole etc. But quite apart from that I can’t imagine anything more calculated to energize the Democrats turn out.

  16. Maxwell James says:

    All I’ll say is that a Rasmussen Reports survey of 2010 likely voters is not at all applicable to a 2012 election, nor is it at all representative of the electorate as a whole. It is unlikely that the Republicans will capture both houses in the fall, but if they do the voting dynamic will be very different in 2012.

  17. Brummagem Joe says:

    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:
    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 13:29
    Simon is the real political scientist here.

    Since Simon doesn’t understand the voting arithmetic in the senate (his comment @ 12.17) I’m unpersuaded I’m afraid.

  18. Wayne says:

    Re “is more probable that the Dems gain seats”

    Really? I think the Reps are more likely to win every seat which is highly unlikely than that happening.

    The Reps don’t need 60. If they win by a landslide which is by no means certain, they will have a great deal of political capital. Also any Dem that is up for reelection in 2012 will be concern about continuing supporting unpopular legislation.

    Bill did a wonderful job in the propaganda of placing blame for the so called ”possible shutting down of government” onto Republicans. That was then this is now. It is like the Dems quick use of the Race Card to silence any opposition. It just doesn’t fly anymore. The Reps can be prepare this time and with the alternate media now available, they can get their side represented like Obama is shutting down government with his veto, etc. Beside at this point many people wouldn’t mind having a good deal of this Government being shut down which most people know won’t happen.

  19. ratufa says:

    I’m a bit dubious about that Rasmussen poll. Larison dissects it :

    http://www.amconmag.com/larison/2010/03/25/is-there-a-majority-for-health-care-repeal-not-really/

    and there’s at least some polling evidence that it’s getting a bit more popular:

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/06/more_polls_show_health-care_re.html

    What happens in 2012 is going to depend more on how the economy is doing than on repealing health care. For Democrats, the best case scenario for 2012 may be having the Republicans win the House in 2010 and spend their time over-reaching and acting as if dislike for Democrats/incumbents translates to liking Republican policies.

  20. EJ says:

    but dont some of these things require active annual appropriations? In that case it doesnt require a veto proof majority to defund things, it just means you dont add that into the annual appropriations. The IRS gets funded annually. Just write the annual treasury department approriation bill with languange that does not fund the healthcare enforcment actions. Sure the dems could continue to block in the senate that appropriate bill but then they would be not funding the entire treausury department.

  21. Brummagem Joe says:

    Wayne says:
    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 13:40
    “The Reps don’t need 60. If they win by a landslide which is by no means certain, they will have a great deal of political capital”

    Er didn’t the Democrats win by a landslide in 2008 and have loads of political capital? Did this stop the Republicans opposing them completely? Intellectual consistency?

  22. Tano says:

    “they can get their side represented like Obama is shutting down government with his veto, etc. Beside at this point many people wouldn’t mind having a good deal of this Government being shut down”

    So let me get this straight. This time the Republicans will succeed in blaming the Democratic President for a government shutdown – and this time that shutdown will be popular.

    And people wonder why its called the “stupid party”!

  23. Brummagem Joe says:

    EJ says:
    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 14:00
    “but dont some of these things require active annual appropriations? In that case it doesnt require a veto proof majority to defund things, it just means you dont add that into the annual appropriations.”

    Read Jim’s assessment of this ploy

  24. Tano says:

    “Any comparison with Clinton and Obama needs to include the fact Clinton, at this stage of his Presidency was still popular, Obama not so much.”

    This is, of course, totally false. Obama’s approval ratings are 3-4 points higher than Clinton’s were at this point in his presidency – and 5-6 points higher than Reagans, fwiw

  25. ponce says:

    “This is, of course, totally false. ”

    No kidding. The Right-wing sewer system has been trying to push the “Obama’s fading poll numbers” lie for weeks now.

    Don’t they realize they need to avoid making objective, easy to falsify statements?

  26. Brummagem Joe says:

    ponce says:
    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 14:31

    ” The Right-wing sewer system has been trying to push the “Obama’s fading poll numbers” lie for weeks now.”

    I don’t give much credence to polls taken in high summer but from summaries(including the Rasmussen downdraft ) it’s obvious Obama has been in a range 45-50 for a year. Extreme partisans are welcome to believe this means Obama is going down the tubes but he isn’t. Given the polarisation of the country and the narrowness of party advantage, these are fairly good numbers for an incumbent president in the worst recession since the war.

  27. Herb says:

    1) I think the possibility for Republican majorities in both houses is slim. They will be a more effective hedge against Obama’s agenda, but they will not be setting the agenda. So forget about “Repeal Obamacare” as an agenda item.

    2) I also think it would have been more responsible of Republicans to have negotiated a better bill. But instead of a “better bill” they wanted to make it an election-year issue.

    In other words, when they could have fixed the bill, they didn’t. And now they want to repeal it, but they can’t.

    Why should I vote for them? Because I’m a sucker who can’t tell when the marketing doesn’t match the product?

  28. anjin-san says:

    “Any comparison with Clinton and Obama needs to include the fact Clinton, at this stage of his Presidency was still popular, Obama not so much.”

    In reality (you know, the place tea partiers fear to tread) Clinton was in just about the same place Obama finds himself – sophomore slump & looking at a possible train wreck in the mid-terms. It worked out pretty well for Bill.

  29. sam says:

    ratufa says:

    I’m a bit dubious about that Rasmussen poll. Larison dissects it :

    Yeah, I was gonna break it to Simon that quoting a Rasmussen poll is usually not the best way to advance your argument. Larison says: “Most bizarrely of all, Rasmussen claims…” which can serve as an omnibus intro to an analysis of any Rasmussen poll in the minds of many of us.