Category Archive 'Repeal'

18 Jan 2011


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30 Mar 2010

National Healthcare Passed and Repealed Before

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W. James Antle III reminds us that a complex, poorly understood national health care bill was already passed only to be repealed, decades ago.

Unlike President Obama’s recent health care handiwork, the 1988 law was a genuinely bipartisan achievement passed by lopsided margins. It was signed into law by a Republican president, Ronald Reagan. It offered all kinds of new benefits, including expanded coverage of hospital stays, at-home care, and prescription drugs (the act was in some respects of a forerunner of Medicare Part D).

The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act was nevertheless repealed a year later. No change in partisan control of Washington was necessary—the repeal was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by another Republican president, George H.W. Bush. The repeal turned out to be most popular with the elderly voters who had demanded the new benefits in the first place.

Why? In addition to creating new benefits, the reform also imposed staggering new costs. Those costs fell most heavily on the senior citizens who were supposed to be the program’s biggest constituency. But, congressional Democrats were astonished to learn, many of these seniors were happy with their existing coverage and resented having to pay a new tax to fund this expansion of government—costs which kicked in before many of the benefits.

Sound familiar? The similarities don’t end there. Members of Congress also had to hear from angry mobs opposed to the legislation, otherwise known as their constituents. The most memorable such incident occurred on Aug. 17, 1989, when House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) held a meeting in his district to sell seniors on the benefits of the catastrophic coverage act.

Instead of being won over by their powerful congressman, the angry seniors waved protest signs and ran him out of the room. As Rostenkowski fled, they shouted “coward,” “recall,” and “impeach.” One elderly woman wearing heart-shaped glasses even threw herself on the hood of Rostenkowski’s car to keep him from leaving.

Rostenkowski got out of the car and tried to escape on foot. The crowd chased him for about a block before his driver came to whisk him away. Imagine what would be said if the Tea Party movement did something like that. Instead the protest was organized by one Jan Schakowsky, then director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens, now a Democratic congresswoman and chief deputy whip for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The protest made the national news and graced the front pages of newspapers. It also had its desired affect—the catastrophic coverage act was repealed within three months.

The 1988 legislative debacle did not resemble this year’s bill with respect to partisanship or initial public support. Democrats had no problem getting Republican votes, and the public was behind it.

However, 1988 does resemble 2010 with respect to the same kind of irresponsible drafting of a dreadfully large and complex bill that was voted into law without serious consideration of its costs and effects. It backfired then, and a lot of people would predict that the new health care bill will prove in practice similarly distressing to many of its intended beneficiaries.

29 Dec 2009

Repealer, and Proud

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Newt Gingrich made the following prediction on Meet the Press last Sunday:

[Y]ou’ve got $513 billion in tax increases, $470 billion in Medicare cuts. You have a scale of, I think, bribery in the Senate we have not seen in our lifetime, with various senators getting all sorts of special deals in a way that I think the public is just appalled by. I suspect every Republican running in ‘10 and again in ‘12 will run on an absolute pledge to repeal this bill.

The bill — most of the bill does not go into effect until ‘13 or ‘14, except on the tax increase side; and therefore, I think there won’t be any great constituency for it. And I think it’ll be a major campaign theme. This is a bad bill, written in a horrible way, and the most — the most corrupt legislation I’ve seen in my lifetime.

0:49 video

Gingrich’s repeal pledge went largely unnoticed on the right, but it certainly got the left’s attention.

Leftie bloggers are busily spinning today about how impossible it would be to repeal the health care bill (Steve Benen), and Matt Yglesias has even devised an epithet to apply to people like me: we’re Repealers.


I think those leftwing bloggers are whistling past the political graveyard.

Look at Rasmussen’s latest poll on Ben Nelson’s standing after the health care vote.

The good news for Senator Ben Nelson is that he doesn’t have to face Nebraska voters until 2012.

If Governor Dave Heineman challenges Nelson for the Senate job, a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows the Republican would get 61% of the vote while Nelson would get just 30%. Nelson was reelected to a second Senate term in 2006 with 64% of the vote.

Nelson’s health care vote is clearly dragging his numbers down. Just 17% of Nebraska voters approve of the deal their senator made on Medicaid in exchange for his vote in support of the plan. Overall, 64% oppose the health care legislation, including 53% who are Strongly Opposed.

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