Note From a Conservative: Republicans Can’t Repeal Obamacare on Their Own

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Conservative Ramesh Ponnuru considers what would happen if Republicans “repealed” Obamacare but left in place the preexisting conditions ban:

This course could cause the insurance exchanges, already in trouble, to collapse entirely. That’s because the Republican bill would scrap the individual mandate while keeping Obamacare’s requirement that insurers treat sick and healthy people alike.

….The Republicans to whom [Philip] Klein talked are blasé about this possibility. If millions of people lose their coverage, these Republicans plan to say that the exchanges were already collapsing before they touched the law. It seems unlikely that the press will go along with this narrative, in part because many health-care experts, liberal and conservative, will tell reporters that it’s false.

What Republicans have not faced is that they don’t have the votes to repeal Obamacare. Calling a bill that doesn’t repeal Obamacare’s central provisions “repeal” is no escape from that dilemma.

It’s a sign of the times that Ponnuru has to warn Republicans that the press won’t go along with their preferred narrative because it’s a lie. It’s also a bit starry-eyed, unfortunately. The fact that it’s a lie certainly wouldn’t stop the right-wing press; wouldn’t stop Trump; and would quite likely affect the rest of the press at least to the extent of calling it “controversial” and declining to take sides.

That said, Ponnuru is right. If you repeal some of Obamacare but leave the rest in place, it would cause the entire program to collapse. It might even go further, and cause the entire individual insurance market to collapse. Republicans better think hard about whether they want to be on the business end of something like that happening.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate