Health-care reform in GOP cross hairs
Republicans plan an all-out assault on the new health-care reform law, which they see as the biggest symbol of over-reach by Democrats. President Obama's veto pen is the first defense.
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The ultimate defense is the presidential veto pen. Even with a new majority in the House come January, Republicans concede that winning a repeal vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely – and the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto, well out of reach.
But Republicans say they'll seek every opportunity to repeal the new law and, failing that, to defund it or delay its implementation.
"If all of ObamaCare cannot be immediately repealed, then it is my intention to begin repealing it piece by piece, blocking funding for its implementation, and blocking the issuance of the regulations necessary to implement it," said Rep. Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia, in a 22-page letter to GOP colleagues in his campaign for majority leader after the Nov. 2 vote. "In short, it is my intention to use every tool at my disposal to achieve full repeal of ObamaCare."
No legislation more symbolizes what Republicans – and especially the conservative tea party movement – dubbed the overreach of an out-of-touch Democratic majority. Repeal would be a key vote for an insurgent freshman class eager to demonstrate that the 2010 election is producing change in Washington.
"My advice to [expected incoming] Speaker [John] Boehner is, as quickly as you can, take a simple and direct repeal of ObamaCare to the floor," said former GOP majority leader Richard Armey, who advised many tea party candidates. "He will find that the House will repeal it with no less than 20 Democratic votes. Don't worry about what the Senate does."
Senate Democrats, though holding a small majority, have the clout to block a vote on outright repeal. But Republicans say it's still important to get both Democrats and President Obama on the record on this issue for the 2012 election.
Votes on law's controversial features
In the likely event that repeal fails, Republicans' next step is to amplify the law's controversial features and take them to the floor for stand-alone votes. Exhibit A is a requirement that businesses file a 1099 form with the Internal Revenue Service every time they spend more than $600 with a new vendor. Many GOP candidates campaigned on nixing this provision, which is especially unpopular with small businesses. Mr. Obama has also cited this provision as an example of a "tweak" that could improve the law.
"It involves too much paperwork, too much filing. It's probably counterproductive," he said in a Nov. 3 press conference, explaining that "it was designed to make sure that revenue was raised to help pay for some of the other provisions."