In John Boehner’s angry, rousing 2010 floor speech denouncing the Affordable Care Act – the one in which he famously shouted “hell no!” repeatedly – the Republican House leader ended on a magnanimous note. “Join me, join me in voting against this bill, so that we can come together, together renew, addressing the challenge of health care in a manner that brings credit to this body and brings credit to the ideals of this nation. And most importantly, that reflects the will of the American people,” he begged. Even in this moment of Tea Party hyper-adrenalized rage, the party was not lashing itself to the status quo. It was instead pleading for a different, more bipartisan approach to solve what all agreed was a terrible problem.
The Republican Party has never changed its health care strategy since Bill Clinton tried to reform the system. Republicans posture in favor of the goal of providing medical care to those who can’t afford it, while opposing any specific plan that does so, and refusing to defend the policy outcome their actual position would bring about. They held to that strategy during the Obamacare debate, and through years of voting to repeal the law while promising their alternative would come soon. It was the strategy they tried to carry out earlier this year, when they would repeal Obamacare immediately and replace it … eventually.
Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare without a replacement failed. But they are attempting the next closest thing: a bill the party leadership will try to rush into law without the barest elements of due diligence. There have been no hearings, no studies, no Congressional Budget Office analysis; not even the text of a bill circulated the day before Thursday’s vote.