Since its passage in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has become one of the most controversial acts in Barack Obama’s presidency; since then, somewhere between 33 and 37 attempts have been made to repeal all or part of the legislation, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced via Twitter that another vote on Obamacare will occur next week. The Republican representative from Virginia tweeted, “It just keeps getting worse. I am scheduling a vote for next week on the full repeal of #Obamacare.”
The current count of attempts to undo the law is disputed because Republican House and Senate lawmakers have tried a series of legislative gimmicks — including procedural moves, budgeting provisions, and outright legislation — to repeal it.
As the numerous repeal attempts make clear, Republican outcry against the healthcare reform has been loud and sustained.
The website for the Republican Party, operating under its moniker ‘Grand Old Party,’ outlined the “case against Obamacare” and its “unconstitutional mandate” in a 1,600-plus word essay posted in March 2011. The article alleged that the reform will drive up healthcare costs, increase insurance premiums, hurt the quality of health care, increase taxes, and blow up the deficit. Key among the piece’s main arguments were quotes from experts organized in a list-like format. For example, in support of the claim that taxes will increase, the GOP cited Director of the Congressional Budget Office Douglas W. Elmendorf, who wrote in a letter to California Senator Nancy Pelosi that the “government takeover of healthcare” will be paid for with nearly “570 billion in job-destroying taxes on small businesses, investments, and innovation.”
Now, Cantor, who sets the House schedule, has decided to revive the debate. Several Republican aides told The Washington Post that the House Leader’s decision to hold another vote to repeal the law serves two purposes for House Republicans: it will give the approximately 30 GOP freshman representatives who have never voted on the bill the opportunity to do so and help Cantor advance healthcare legislation of his own. These representatives will then be able to tell constituents that they voted to repeal the largely unpopular law, and Cantor will be able to advance his “making life work” agenda, which stresses kitchen-table issues over drastic federal spending cuts.
Included in the series of bills on Cantor’s agenda is the “Working Families Flexibility Act,” which would give workers of private employers the option of receiving additional time off in lieu of overtime. But more important is the House Majority Leader’s “Helping Sick Americans Now Act.” Cantor was forced to pull the bill two weeks ago after conservatives argued against the measure that would redistribute millions of dollars in funding established by Obamacare. With the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the representative could secure enough support to pass his own legislation.
If this repeal attempt fails to achieve its aims, the most important provision of Obamacare — the superstore-like health insurance exchanges — will be implemented next year, with open enrollment beginning in the fall.
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