They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That’s a pretty lousy definition of insanity, actually, but it is a great definition of the House Republican Caucus.
The US House of Representatives will, for the 37th time since 2011, take up a measure on Thursday that would repeal the Affordable Care Act. The bill, authored by Tea Party darling and radical ideologue Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., would eliminate the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, stripping insurance from millions of people, and preventing millions more from qualifying for insurance through the program once it is fully implemented in 2014.
“Three years after being signed into law, Obamacare is a train wreck that is deeply unpopular with the American people and it must be fully repealed,” Bachmann said in a statement. Of course, very little of that is true — if the Affordable Care Act was so deeply unpopular that immediate repeal was being demanded by the American people, you’d think that might have hurt Obama’s reelection chances last November… But that won’t stop the GOP from going forward with a purely symbolic vote.
The vote is symbolic, of course, because there is no chance whatsoever the Democratic-controlled Senate will take it up, and even less chance that Obama would sign the bill into law. It’s unclear what the GOP hopes to accomplish by pushing this legislation yet again. Perhaps they believe that, like Beetlejuice, the ACA will simply disappear if you say its name the right number of times. Or maybe they’re trying to win a bet about how many times they can cast the same vote without laughing.
It certainly can’t be because they have nothing better to do. The debt ceiling extension is due to expire this weekend, and as per usual, the House has dealt with it by ignoring it until the last possible second.
Perhaps we shouldn’t lament that the Republicans are once again wasting time on a Quixotic attempt to repeal the ACA, but rather celebrate that they are still unable to. The Affordable Care Act has not just been good for people with pre-existing conditions and twentysomethings still on their parents’ health plans. The rate of growth in health care spending has declined significantly; 2013 may see Americans spend $770 billion less on health care than expected. The ACA can’t take all the credit for that, of course, but it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t deserve some of it.
If the GOP had its way, millions of Americans would lose insurance, but spending on health care would go up. Thankfully, they won’t have a say in the matter; no matter how many times they vote, Obamacare remains the law of the land, and there’s no sign that will change anytime soon.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr