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GOP Members of Congress Reluctant to Repeal the Affordable Care Act

There’s been a largely theoretical debate raging amongst pundits over whether or not it’s realistic to think conservatives will be able to repeal the Affordable Care Act at any point. Dave Weigel brings us the empirical data:

About one month later, neither Bachmann’s bill nor companion bills in the House and Senate have won majority support from their peers. Only 52 House Republicans have co-sponsored Bachmann’s repeal bill, H.R. 4903, and only 62 House Republicans have co-sponsored Rep. Steve King’s (Iowa) repeal bill, H.R. 4972. Most of the same people have co-sponsored both. Only 20 Republican senators have co-sponsored Sen. Jim DeMint’s (S.C.) repeal bill, S. 3152. That worries some Republicans who want to run hard on repeal in November.

“What I run into,” King told me recently, “is that you ask Republicans to support 100 percent full repeal, but there are a number of them that aren’t committed to full repeal. They have an equivocation that they would leave a piece there, a piece there, a piece there. If Republicans cannot unanimously come together and support 100 percent repeal of Obamacare and then start to rebuild, then we will not win this victory, because we’ll be divided by the Democrats and fighting on Obama’s turf.”

And there’s the rub.

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Republicans oppose tax increases and Republicans oppose deficit spending when the President is a Democrat. Consequently, none of them could support the Affordable Care Act since it necessarily involved either tax increases or else deficit spending. At some point in the future, however, there will be a Republican President and that person will propose a deficit-increasing tax cut, with the cuts designed so as to overwhelmingly benefit the rich. That may involve repealing some of the revenue sections of the ACA and will certainly involved undoing the ACA’s modestly beneficial impact on the budget. But it won’t be repealed.