Outgoing Republican Senator Suggests GOP Is Interested In Scoring Political Points, Not Actually Fixing Health Law

Last week, Sen. Chuck Grasssley (R-IA) tried to temper expectations of repealing the Affordable Care Act in its entirety by bluntly admitting that even if the House manages to eliminate the law, the effort would fail in the Senate. “I think the House will pass a repeal of the ObamaCare. But I believe it will die in the Senate because there’s not 60 votes in the Senate for it,” he told a local Iowa radio station. “And even if it passed Congress, I think the president would veto it and so we wouldn’t get two-thirds to override the veto.”

In today’s Los Angeles Times, former Senate Minority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and outgoing Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) echo this point, but also suggest that the GOP is bound to try anyway, suggesting that the party is more interested in scoring political points than actually fixing anything in the law:

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican who retired in 2007, said Republicans could help correct flaws in the sweeping law.

“The reality is that the law will largely remain intact. That being the case, it is important that it be made to work as effectively as possible,” Frist said. “And there are lots of things that can be fixed or modified by working together.” […]

And Frist and others said Republicans had almost no incentive to work with Democrats, especially after Obama pushed through the legislation by using parliamentary tactics that circumvented GOP opposition. […]

Utah Sen. Robert F. Bennett, a conservative Republican who voted against the law but lost a primary challenge this year to a “tea party”-backed candidate, said he did not expect any meaningful debate on healthcare next year.

“I would hope Republicans would be responsible enough to say, ‘All right, let’s construct something that works,’ which means, in my view, a bipartisan kind of effort,” he said. “But I’m afraid there may be some Republicans who say: ‘Well, we won the 2010 election by bashing what the Democrats did on healthcare. Maybe we can win the 2012 election by the same strategy.’ “

The bipartisan effort to repeal the 1099 reporting requirement will be the GOP’s first opportunity to prove that it’s willing to put its political considerations aside and focus on some of the more important policy fixes.

Repealing the 1099 reporting requirement will cost $17 billion and in September, Republicans tried to use this issue to dismantle key parts of the law by offering pay-fors that underfunded preventive care and weakened the individual mandate. Building consensus on how to make up the revenue shortfall wont’ be easy, but if the GOP continues to offer non-starter “message driven” proposals, small business groups will only have the GOP to blame if the 1099 requirement is not repealed.