When South Dakota conservative activist Barb Lindberg and her Black Hills pals failed to get enough signatures to refer two state laws related to health insurance reform on the ballot, I ascribed it to a pragmatic decision by most rightwingers to avoid a costly fight on a complicated legislative issue.
Jill Lawrence sees evidence that Republicans nationwide are backing away from a futile fight over ObamaCare. The House Republicans who made such hay of false shouts of socialized medicine in 2010 were quick to stage a symbolic vote to repeal ObamaCare. They have hilariously cited that ineffective vote as an "accomplishment," but appear to have recognized that their momentum on the issue has run out:
Republican strategists acknowledge their party faces political challenges on health care. One is the reform bill was fully debated in 2010 and it's rare that an issue is central to two elections in a row. Another is the energy level needed to fuel an effort to kill a major law. "It's going to be awfully hard to repeal it," says John Feehery, president of QGA Communications and a former top aide to House Speaker Dennis Hastert. "It's hard to maintain the kind of anger that comes with repeal."
A third problem, according to a GOP strategist familiar with health-care issues, is that supporting repeal means the eventual nominee will need an alternative to the Obama law. "That becomes messy," this strategist told me, because the nominee presumably will want to continue certain popular benefits and "there's not an easy fix to how to replace the rest of Obamacare that keeps those features" [Jill Lawrence, "Why 'ObamaCare' May Live," The Daily Beast, 2011.07.07].
Republicans appear to have decided they can take a swing at a bigger piÃ±ata: dismantling the entire federal government. When I read conservatives' denial of concerns about national default and recommendations that we keep paying the bills by axing the federal pension fund and selling public lands, I can't help thinking they see the chance to bring to fruition a long-term Bush-Norquist plan to dismantle government by spending it into insolvency. Forget repealing ObamaCare: they can repeal the whole government.