Health Care Reform the Day After

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In the wake of last night’s election, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have both said they’re open to “tweaks” of the Affordable Care Act, but don’t think they have any interest in fundamentally changing the law.

Obama said today he thinks the 1099 provisions for small business in the ACA are too “burdensome,” so that small piece of the huge law may be repealed. But asked at a press conference today whether the ACA is in danger – House Republicans vow to pass a repeal bill – Obama said, “We’d be misreading the election if we thought the American people want to see the next two years spent re-litigating” the law.

In other words, move along, nothing to see here, folks. As I wrote yesterday, repeal is not going to happen. But Republicans, perhaps looking for a distraction from the congressional gridlock we’re likely to see over the next two years, intend to keep harping on the ACA.

This morning, I talked to Rep. Steve King, a conservative House Republican who wants to lead the repeal effort in that chamber. He spoke freely of the possibility of a government shutdown over the issue, while deftly saying shutdown “wouldn’t be good for anybody.” I asked him whether he thinks congressional Republicans have the guts to force a shutdown, even though it was a disaster for Newt Gingrich in the 1990s. “I can tell you that I do,” he replied, “I’m not changing my mind by the way, just in case anybody wonders.”

Ok yes, this may be bluster. But King called for “confrontations” and said the incoming Republican freshman class in the House “puts some extra spine into our conference.” He also cited Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson as someone who might support a repeal effort in the Senate.

The real political question here is this. Will opposition to a nearly foregone conclusion – the Affordable Care Act – hold up as a salient GOP issue the party can rely on for the next two years? Around half or less of the American public supports repeal. My sense is that health care reform makes for a better rallying cry on the campaign trail than it does in the legislative doldrums between elections.

And a h/t to Ben Smith, who posted the following list of House Democrats who voted against the health care bill and how they fared last night. (Hint: half still lost)

Scott Murphy (N.Y. 20) – LOSS

Bobby Bright (ALA. 2) – LOSS

Frank Kratovil Jr. (MD. 1) – LOSS

Walt Minnick (IDAHO 1) – LOSS

Eric Massa (N.Y. 29) – RESIGNED


John Adler (N.J. 3) – LOSS

Glenn Nye (VA. 2) – LOSS

Chet Edwards (TEX. 17) – LOSS

Travis Childers (MISS. 1) – LOSS

John Boccieri (OHIO 16) – LOSS

Larry Kissell (N.C. 8) – WIN

Jason Altmire (PA. 4) – WIN

Harry Teague (N.M. 2) – LOSS

Betsy Markey (COLO. 4) – LOSS

Jim Marshall (GA. 8) – LOSS

Suzanne Kosmas (FLA. 24) – LOSS

Dennis J. Kucinich (OHIO 10) – WIN

Lincoln Davis (TENN. 4) – LOSS

Allen Boyd (FLA. 2) – LOSS

Heath Shuler (N.C. 11) – WIN

Tim Holden (PA. 17) – WIN

Michael E. McMahon (N.Y. 13) – LOSS

Brian Baird (WASH. 3) – RETIRED

Jim Matheson (UTAH 2) – WIN

Ben Chandler (KY. 6) – WIN

Ike Skelton (MO. 4) – LOSS

John Barrow (GA. 12) – WIN

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.) – LOSS

Mike McIntyre (N.C. 7) – WIN

Dan Boren (OKLA. 2) – WIN

Collin C. Peterson (MINN. 7) – WIN

Bart Gordon (TENN. 6) – RETIRED

Gene Taylor (MISS. 4) – LOSS

Mike Ross (ARK. 4) – WIN

Rick Boucher (VA. 9) – LOSS


Charlie Melancon (LA. 3) – RETIRED

John Tanner (TENN. 8) – RETIRED