During the Easter Sunday broadcast of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace used some of the show’s time to further the Republican belief that the GOP should still run against the ACA. Basically, the position taken by Wallace and the conservative members of the panel is that Democrats cannot possibly win by touting the law and its positive impact. Therefore, despite the fact that millions of people have signed up for private insurance plans due to the law, and rising costs of health care have slowed down, Wallace and Co. feel that the GOP should still use the health care law as a way to defeat Democrats in the November midterms.
To begin this segment, Wallace played a clip of the President saying the repeal debate is over. Wallace then segued to asking conservative columnist George Will if the repeal debate was really over.
WALLACE: President Obama is announcing 8 million people have now signed up for ObamaCare and hammering Republicans for continuing to try to repeal the law.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group.
Syndicated columnist George Will, author of the new book “A Nice Little Place on the North Side”, about Wrigley Field at 100; Time Magazine’s Rana Foroohar; Robert Costa of The Washington Post; and former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh.
Did you just raise your hand? I thought you wanted my attention right away.
I’m going to ask you the first question. The president says ObamaCare is working. The debate is over. Is he right?
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, “the debate is over” is something of a mantra. The debate is over about climate change — everyone, be quiet. The debate is over about early childhood education — everyone, be quiet.
Lots of things are supposedly over. You hear that from people who are finding the evidence inconvenient. Now, is it working? That’s a fairly minimal claim. I mean, the farm subsidies in this country are working. Whether or not they are doing good work is another matter.
So, and this is — the argument about ObamaCare is not just about ObamaCare. It’s about the nature of the American regime. What kind of country do we want to live in? And therefore, it’s going to take on for some while.
Furthermore, we haven’t seen how the distribution of enrollees, how many are young and how many are female are going to have the work of adverse selection. So, I’d say it’s a minimal claim.
And he is contradicting himself. He says, we should all stop talking about this except Democrats this fall should campaign on the basis of the multiform excellence of the Affordable Care Act.
Notice how at the end of Will’s little diatribe he tossed in some Obamacare trutherism. This is one of the newer conservative memes. Republicans are now taking to print, television and radio making claims that the Obama administration is exaggerating or even just plain making up the enrollment numbers. This falls into the mentality that led many Republicans to question polls prior to the 2012 election or claim that job numbers were being inflated to make the President look better on the economy.
Even better is how Will thought he was showing his utter brilliance by claiming that the President is saying we shouldn’t talk about the ACA, except to talk about how well it is working. That isn’t what the President said. He stated that Republicans need to stop talking about repealing the law. There is no way this law will or can be repealed at this point. Millions of people have signed up through the exchanges and now have private insurance plans. Millions more have coverage through other provisions of the ACA, whether it’s via Medicaid expansion or the ability to remain on their parents’ insurance plans. It just isn’t viable to talk about repeal anymore.
Later on in the discussion, Will showed that he still thinks it is possible that Obamacare can be repealed, due to a couple of lawsuits sitting in the courts right now. After former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh answered a question from Wallace, where he brought up how Democrats might run on certain aspects of the ACA rather than the entire law itself, Will was asked a follow-up question. That is where he went into fantasyland, offering hope to conservatives that the law might still get overturned.
WALLACE: George, do you think it’s substantively a draw?
WILL: No. And I think the reason Evan gives is these are mobilizational actions, and the Republicans are mobilized by ObamaCare. It’s a great gift that keeps on giving for them.
But also, there are two court decisions that may come down between now and November. They’re going to change everything. Four different courts are hearing an argument that in the 34 states that have not established state exchanges, language of the law makes clear they cannot distribute ObamaCare subsidies.
But more than that, on May 8th here in the second most important court in the land, the D.C. circuit court of appeals, there will be an argument that this is objectively a revenue measure. The Supreme Court said as much. It’s a tax measure.
It did not originate in the House. The Constitution says all revenue measures must originate in the House. And under the standards of origination, the whole thing is unconstitutional. So, this argument again is far from over.
Will is one of those conservatives that still holds onto the belief that the ACA is ‘unconstitutional.’ He is placing all of his eggs in the basket that somehow one of these courts is going to hand the GOP a gift decision, while at the same time decimating the entire health care industry. It is very, very likely that he is going to be disappointed in the end. However, that doesn’t stop him from going on talk shows, or using his column, to dish out some conservative comfort food to the bubble-dwellers.
Right now, many Republicans just don’t know how to handle the fact that this law is working, just like it was always supposed to. They did everything they could to make it fail, yet it still persevered. For the past four-plus years, they’ve just chanted the ‘Obamacare=bad’ mantra, with no backup plan. They are now confronted with a successful law. Worse, Republicans had had no hand in its success so they are stuck chanting that same old mantra. All they can do is convince themselves it is a winning strategy. To believe otherwise is not an option at this point.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).