the more the Republicans push repealing health insurance, the more they may run into a buzz saw: either push to repeal parts of the bill that are popular with the public, or push to repeal the part of the bill that is popular with the health insurance industry (and we all know what the health insurance industry does to bills it doesn’t like) and which arguably funds the whole rest of the reform. (I realize this is a gross simplification, but without a mandate the cost of policies would undoubtedly go up significantly).
My assessment is that repealing health care reform is going to turn out to be a lot like cutting spending: everyone is in favor of cutting spending generally, but no one wants to cut spending for particular programs. Thus the Republicans face a dilemma. Politically, they are probably best served by continuing to rail against health care, but not actually trying to make unpopular changes to the program. However, that will open them up to charges of not actually fulfilling campaign promises. So the best strategy may be to overreach, propose plans that could never work (e.g., repealing mandates without doing anything else), count on the Senate to block or Obama to veto, and therefore keep the issue alive in its general form for the 2012 elections. Gridlock anyone?
Despite all of my necessary caveats about trusting polls that rely upon voters to explain their election choices, there’s no doubting that the Republicans remain intellectually incoherent. As I wrote a few weeks ago in the Washington Post (but without any corroborating data), the Republicans’ electoral promises are actually well out-of-step with what most Americans want. Your ball, Boehner!