One of the definitions of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”. Republicans in Congress have voted to repeal Obamacare over 40 times. Yet with Democrats in control of the Senate and the White House, Obamacare is still in force as “the law of the land”. So why would any sane person expect a different result from yet another vote to repeal it?
Certainly, much of the impetus for the vote to repeal is to establish the Republicans’ position that Obamacare is in fact a train wreck; after 40+ votes to repeal, no one, on either side of the aisle, should have any doubt as to the Republican position. And considering that the Obamacare train wreck is still traveling full steam ahead, it would seem prudent to consider a different approach. Yet when Congressman (and Senate candidate) Jack Kingston suggested considering action to fix Obamacare, rather than continuing to tilt at the windmill of repeal, he was widely criticized.
Kingston drew the wrath of numerous conservatives when, during a radio interview, he stated “A lot of conservatives say, ‘Nah, let’s just step back and let this thing fall to pieces on its own, but I don’t think that’s always the responsible thing to do.” Fellow Congressman (and opponent for the Republican Senate nomination) Paul Broun responded, “I don’t want to fix Obamacare, I want to get rid of it.” Daniel Horowitz of the conservative Madison Project posted a blog on redstate.com entitled”Jack Kingston has Surrendered on Obamacare”.
Such comments constitute little more than sanctions of the concept that doing the same thing over and over again will produce different results. On the other hand, Kingston’s statement establishes a Republican willingness to do what’s necessary to keep the train on the tracks, or at least slow down its journey to disaster.
“Willingness” is the operative term. With over 20 years of experience in Washington, Kingston has to know that any modification to Obamacare suggested by a Republican will be rejected out of hand by Democrats. He also has to know that the entrenched position of the Democrats assures that the full effect of the train wreck and subsequent consequences are inevitable.
There’s a big difference between “surrendering” and establishing a potentially advantageous position for the future. By expressing a willingness to consider changes to the existing legislation, Kingston is establishing a platform for rolling out sensible solutions to the problems created by Obamacare. That alters the conversation considerably because it embodies a positive, rather than a negative, approach– an approach that is far more saleable to independents and moderate Democrats (if there are any).
Democrats have had a good deal of success labeling the GOP as “The party of no”. Efforts to repeal Obamacare play right into that rhetoric because they have not been effectively linked to alternatives. In spite of facts to the contrary, the Democrat mantra is “Republicans want to repeal Obamacare but have failed to provide an alternative plan.” By putting forth plans to fix Obamacare, Republicans can put their ideas front and center, partially defuse the negative chatter coming from the other side of the aisle, and also provide positive talking points.
Will such an approach have any significant effect on Obamacare? Probably not. With its present composition, the Senate will never ratify any fixes approved by the House. But the presentation of feasible alternatives puts Republicans in the position of having offered solutions, rather than problems. And that will resonate with voters considerably better than yet another useless effort to repeal.