Mission accomplished for congressional Republicans.
Meaningless votes in the House yesterday commanded lead-the-newspaper treatment in Little Rock and, undoubtedly, elsewhere.
Talking Points Memo emphasizes that the votes included the 38th — 38th! — vote to stop the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare for short. The article noted quickly that the legislation is doomed by both the Senate and presidential veto.
The legislation was designed as a partisan messaging device in service of the GOP’s ongoing quest to attack and undermine the health care reform law. Hatched by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), it was a clever gambit buttressed by a populist message: If large employers get a one-year reprieve, why shouldn’t ordinary Americans?
Of course it was a staged and scheduled messaging ritual. How else would Rep. Tiny Tim Griffin of Kochville be ready with a supporting op-ed on his infinite wisdom for the Democrat-Gazette op ed page the same day his brave grandstanding was recognized in an article at the top of page 1A?
Brilliant messaging, yes. But mean to the core.
Not to say messaging isn’t important. Skillful as President Obama has been politically, from first campaign on, he seems to be incrementally losing the PR battle on Obamacare. Even as thousands of seniors have had their prescription coverage improved; as millions no longer pay co-pays for sound preventive treatment; as families keep their kids insured; as millions can now see the light of health coverage at the end of a tunnel of medical bankruptcies and untreated ailments. THAT is what Tim Griffin proposes to delay or kill.
There will be complications and corrections as something this massive is put into place. Republicans of an earlier age used the same sorts of arguments, foot-dragging and obfuscation to attempt to kill Medicare. Thank goodness, most would agree, they didn’t prevail. Millions of American should be hoping for a similar outcome this time around. It’s not clear they get Tim Griffin’s real message — delay is death to expanded health care coverage.
UPDATE: President Obama fired back today at a news conference. The White House provides a transcript of his public remarks: