Defund “Obamacare”? Not as Easy as it Sounds

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Two Republicans who have provided some intellectual leadership for the GOP have signaled in recent days that “defunding” the Affordable Care Act may sound good on the surface, but won’t really work in practice.

On Friday, the American Spectator published an interview with Rep. Paul Ryan, in which the GOP ranking member on the House budget committee said of President Obama:

I get this question every single day, ‘If you take back Congress, you have the power of the purse, just defund the thing.’ Well, yeah, technically speaking, we can put riders in appropriations bills that say, ‘No such funds can go to HHS to do x, y, or z in implementing ObamaCare.’ He’s gotta sign those things. And he doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who would sign those things.

Then last night on Fox Business, Sen. Judd Gregg, who’s retiring from the Senate, told Neil Cavuto, “I don’t think starving or repealing is probably the best approach here.” (h/t The Hill)

Gregg said that he believes Republicans instead need to “go in and restructure” the Affordable Care Act. Yet the kind of structural changes Gregg goes on to suggest – like rerouting Medicare savings, for instance – also seem unlikely while Obama is in the White House.

Still, that Ryan and Gregg are offering some counterpoint to GOP pure calls for “repeal and replace” means that under the campaign rhetoric of 2010 lies some doubt about the viability of at least one line from the party’s Pledge to America:

Repeal the Costly Health Care Takeover of 2010

Because the new health care law kills jobs, raises taxes, and increases the cost of health care, we will immediately take action to repeal this law.

Take action, maybe. But actually repeal the Affordable Care Act, not anytime soon.