Republicans are set to take control of the House today in a much needed change of power that comes to at least one of our legislative branches. But the celebration on the right will be short lived. They’ll need to immediately get to work making good on the promises they made.
First and foremost: repealing Obamacare. But it will be a delicate dance. And like many shows that involve dancing these days, a couple of wrong steps and Republicans could get voted off.
While liberals scream bloody murder about this vote being “strictly symbolic” and it "going nowhere" (because of a Democratically controlled Senate that will never bring the repeal of Obamacare to the floor and a president in the White House packing a powerful veto pen) the GOP ran on a platform of eliminating this costly and massive new entitlement. They must keep their word. And, a majority of Americans still favor repeal of the health care law, so they are correct to vote to overturn it.
Since its passage, the health care law has been ridden with nothing but problems (like increased premiums, to take one example) a prediction that was made by critics made long before the bill was signed into law.
The benefits from Obamacare don’t kick in till 2014, but the costs – but financial and otherwise—are causing pain already. This gives those on the political right plenty of reasons to revisit the bill. Plus, Rep. Daryl Issa is planning hearings on the costs associated with Obamacare and hopefully, the process. This is a good idea. For example, what deals went down between the White House, big Pharma and the unions to get their special carve outs? Was political support promised? And what about policy proposals like end of life care (aka: “death panels”) that most assuredly the government favors as a cost containment mechanism. What is the truth to their legitimacy? We have a right to know.
While repeal of Obamacare is good, the GOP must be prepared to offer a replacement bill. It should be one that includes a provision that allows patients to buy insurance across state lines, includes tort reform to curb sky-high malpractice costs, and AHAs (associated health plans) so businesses can buy more cost effective health care.
The plan that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) offered during the health care summit at the White House was a great start. It should be their template for real, sensible reform.
While Republicans have an opportunity to use health care reform as an opposition tool, they must also be careful to not let the same fate that struck the Democrats repeat itself: being so obsessed with heath care while jobs is the number one issue to most Americans. The GOP cannot afford to look as distracted as the Democrats did while unemployment lines grew and grew. Taming big, costly, in-your-face government is a great message, but the economy must be first and foremost.
The political reality is that the next two years may be a public relations fight between parties. It's one that will hinge on how the economy performs, and who ends up on the top of the Republican ticket.
Remember, if the GOP really wants to repeal Obamacare, it must return the White House to Republican hands. In the meantime, it's up to House Republicans to return to their core values by passing sensible legislation that will embarras Democrats, stand firm on serious spending cuts (despite the political pain) and present a clear cut case for why Democrats’ goal of big, gangster government is a loser. If they fail, they’ll be the ones earning that title.
Andrea Tantaros is a conservative commentator and Fox News contributor.