Jonah Goldberg suggests today that no one can say what they really believe about health care. Republicans refuse to admit that they don’t really want to repeal Obamacare after all. As for Democrats:
Meanwhile, the Democrats know that Obamacare has been a huge albatross for their party and understand that the best thing that could happen for them is if the Republicans agreed to keep Obamacare in name (i.e., abandon the rhetoric of “repeal”) but do whatever is necessary to make the thing work. But the GOP is doing the opposite. It’s largely keeping Obamacare in terms of policy (at least the really popular parts) but rhetorically it’s claiming to destroy Obamacare utterly. So, both the Democrats and the Republicans end up claiming this is a repeal of Obamacare when it’s not. It’s all a war for the best spin, not the best policy.
Wait a second. “Keep Obamacare but fix it” is practically the Democratic rallying cry these days. There’s hardly a Democrat alive who doesn’t loudly and publicly support this position. A couple of months ago all 48 Democratic senators signed a letter promising, “If repeal is abandoned, we stand ready to work with you to help all Americans get the affordable health care they need.” Every liberal rally and march includes people carrying “Don’t repeal it, fix it!” signs. I’ve personally written multiple times about this, most recently two days ago: “Obamacare’s modest problems could be fixed with nothing more than a few minor changes and additional funding of $5-10 billion or so.” Those minor changes include, possibly, a higher mandate penalty and continuing to fund the CSR subsidies. Nothing all that hard.
Would Democrats be willing to support some conservative priorities—tort reform, HSAs, block granting Medicaid—in return for this? Beats me. But Democrats have sure made it clear that keeping Obamacare and fixing it is what they want. If Republicans truly have any interest in this, they shouldn’t have any trouble finding willing listeners.