If you follow the latest dismal news from Washington, you know that Republicans in Congress are threatening to shut down government funding unless lawmakers go along with eliminating Obama Care. The deadline for passing a budget is Monday, Sept. 30.
Republicans so far say they are willing to shut down the government if Democrats don’t agree to defund Obama Care.
The odd thing about the standoff is that Republicans want to punish Democrats for pushing through what was essentially a Republican health care plan.
During Democrat Bill Clinton’s first term, the president and his Democratic allies in Congress tried to pass a program to provide health coverage to all Americans. The Clinton plan essentially was to require all employers to furnish health coverage, with an individual mandate to cover everyone else, and subsidies to help people who couldn’t afford the coverage.
Everyone would have been required to buy insurance from new regional health alliances. A key element of the plan was “managed competition,” i.e., there would be a standard benefits package, with insurers competing on quality and cost.
Republicans countered with their own plan, drawn up by the conservative Heritage Foundation. It would essentially have preserved the current system, but imposed an individual mandate for everyone to buy health insurance and provided subsidies to the poor.
The Romneycare plan that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts was very similar to the Heritage Foundation plan, and so was Obama Care, the plan that Democrats pushed through during Obama’s first term. The Obama plan, whatever you think of it, was much less radical than what many Democrats would have preferred.
Republicans, then, are trying to repeal a plan that’s very similar to what their 2012 presidential nominee back when he was a governor, and very similar to what Republicans backed during the Clinton administration.
One final bit of irony: The current leadership of the Heritage Foundation is pushing for the Obama Care repeal effort. This is a particular sore spot with conservatives who don't like Obama Care but who think shutting down the government will only hurt Republicans.
See, for example, this Wall Street Journal editorial, which complains, "These columns opposed ObamaCare before it was known by that name, and we may have even been the first to call it by that name. We also don't need any lectures about principle from the Heritage Foundation that promoted RomneyCare and the individual mandate that is part of ObamaCare. Or from cable TV pundits who sold Republicans on Mitt Romney despite RomneyCare." See also this column by James Taranto, who also thinks the defunding effort is a bad idea politically.