How Republicans Can Repeal Health Reform

The newly-elected Republicans were voted in to repeal the healthcare law; it’s imperative they do it.

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It is imperative that the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives, as one of its earliest acts, holds a clean, straight up or down vote on the repeal of Obamacare.

It's imperative because it is what they were elected to do. Nearly half of likely U.S. voters (47 percent), pollster Scott Rasmussen said Monday, "continue to believe that repeal of the health care law passed earlier this year is at least somewhat likely. " [See photos of the healthcare protests.]

That said, it is unlikely that total repeal would even be considered in the U.S. Senate—given that Harry Reid and the Democrats are still in charge—let alone passed, or that it would avoid President Barack Obama's veto pen. That means the opponents of Obamacare will have to find creative ways to slow down its implementation and, ultimately, to dismantle it, perhaps even piece by piece.

There are several things they can do, the most obvious of which is to put provisions into so-called "must pass" legislation that would block the administration from spending any money to create the new bureaucracies needed to oversee this massive new program, to conduct studies, or to otherwise move ahead with its implementation.

Though important, it's a sort of "inside baseball" approach that relies heavily on what are generally obscure—to the general public anyway—legislative machinations to stop implementation of Obamacare, keeping it in a holding pattern until repeal can be achieved.

To do that, it is important to keep up the political pressure, especially in the Senate, where the number of Democrats in Republican-leaning states up for re-election in 2012 is considerable.

One strategy that might prove effective, in the short term at least, is for the House to take up measures, one at a time, to eliminate some of Obamacare's most objectionable aspects, starting with the individual mandate that everyone purchase health insurance. There's also the highly objectionable 1099 requirement—which the Senate is even now trying to repeal as it considers the food safety bill—which is harder to repeal than most people think because it is expected to raise, by some estimates, $17 billion off heretofore unreported income. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on healthcare.]

As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Bruce Josten put it in a letter to the Senate on Monday:

This mandate, if not repealed, will force more than 40 million entities, including governments, nonprofits, and both small and large businesses, to comply with onerous data collection and IRS information filing burdens on virtually all noncredit card purchases totaling $600 or more with any vendor in a tax year.

At a time when they can least afford it, entities will have to institute new complex record-keeping, data collection and reporting requirements to track every purchase by vendor and payment method. This provision will dramatically increase accounting costs and could expose businesses to costly and unjustified audits by the IRS.

Clearly the requirement is onerous and therefore hugely unpopular, meaning a straight effort at repeal could draw a lot of public support—and create a hard vote for many of the aforementioned senators.

The key to repeal is keeping up the political pressure, even to the point where the Senate feels compelled to "pass the buck" to the president. Obamacare is his signature accomplishment. He needs to be the one who stands up and defends it, piece by piece if necessary, rather than relying on Senate Democrats to do the job for him. Otherwise there will come a point where the political winds will shift against him as Democratic senators begin to worry more about their own careers rather than his legacy.