Has the GOP given up on repealing 'ObamaCare'?

Politico reports that Republican efforts to "repeal and replace" health care reform — a key 2010 campaign promise — have been all but abandoned

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.) and other congressional Republicans have gone quiet of late on their efforts to repeal and replace health care reform.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In 2010, Republicans campaigned hard on a pledge to repeal President Obama's signature health care reform law and replace it with their own plan. When they won control of the House, they doubled down on the "repeal and replace" vow with an immediate vote to repeal the law. Now, after an initial flurry of activity, mostly in the House, the GOP has quietly dropped the effort and moved on to other fights, says Politico's Jennifer Haberkorn. Why have Republicans stopped fighting "ObamaCare"?

This was always just a campaign pitch: The "repeal and replace" push "is pretty much dead," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. And that's no surprise. GOP leaders knew they'd never have the votes to do much in the Senate, much less overcome an Obama veto, so the whole pledge always smacked of "nothing more than a sop from the GOP to the Tea Party crowd." And it turns out, even Tea Partiers care more about the economy than derailing health care reform.

"So much for 'repeal and replace'"

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And the "replace" part proved too tricky: The GOP made the repeal-and-replace promise to a lot of people, including a whole crop of freshmen Republicans who took the vow seriously, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. But aside from their inability to repeal the law, "Republicans were always blowing smoke on the 'replace' part." They never had a rival plan, because their ideas are either terrible, ineffective, or already part of the Democrats' health law.

"Remember repeal and replace?"

Actually, the GOP merely tucked this issue in its back pocket: If Republicans had presented an actual replacement plan, they would have opened themselves to political risks — look at Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) unpopular Medicare overhaul plan, says Robin Marty in Care2. But you can run on a promise to "replace and repeal" for years, so long as you do neither. In 2012, the GOP can simply say, "We couldn't get it done because the Democrats blocked us. Vote for more Republicans to get our real policy!" That's "the danger of politics — if an issue makes for a good political football, don't expect it to get fixed or changed."

"Is 'repeal and replace' over?"

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