Today is the anniversary of both the Affordable Care Act and HB2. For Republicans, today may become a day that lives in infamy. House Bill 2 sunk their Governor and later today, Republicans in the U. S. House will vote to repeal and replace Obamacare with a program that takes insurance away from more than 24 million people while reducing coverage and increasing premiums. If 2018 turns out to be a Democratic wave, Republican might consider March 23 a day to remember.
Last March 23, Republicans in the legislature went into Special Session with a hastily drawn bill that had then-Governor Pat McCrory nervous and left Democrats in the dark. It was passed and signed into law with little debate in less than 24 hours. Republicans thought the bill would energize their base and drive a wedge between Democrats and Republicans. They couldn’t have been more wrong or more powerless to fix their mistake.
The law damaged the state’s reputation and cost North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars in business revenue and thousands of jobs. The Republican leadership would like to repeal the bill but it’s held hostage by their right flank. Ironically, as their hyper-partisanship is causing them increasing problems, they can muster the votes to override the Governor’s veto, making judicial races partisan again, but they can’t muster the votes to repeal their own bill. It’s quite an anniversary.
Republicans have an even bigger problem with the Affordable Care Act. For seven years, they’ve been telling Americans how awful the law is and promising to repeal it as soon as they got power. Now, it turns out that they don’t have the stomach for a clean repeal. They’ve rolled out a bill that will hurt more people than it will help—all in the name of freedom. To win their right-flank, known as the Freedom Caucus, Republicans are cutting “essential benefits” that Obamacare requires insurers to cover. Those benefits include maternity coverage, pediatric dentistry, mental health services, and substance abuse treatment. They want to bring back pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps to makes sure sick people can’t get covered and lose their houses to pay for treatment. And of course the bill is really a huge tax cut for the rich.
This day could be an ominous one for Republicans in North Carolina. They’re stuck with an unpopular bill that’s costing the state money and jobs as well as its reputation all because they can’t reel in their right flank. In Congress, the extremists in their caucus, led by Rep. Mark Meadows of NC-11, have high-jacked the ACA repeal deal by demanding cuts to services that will negatively impact a huge number of Americans.
On this anniversary, we should all remember that gerrymandering has left Republicans more scared of primaries than of general elections. They’ve pushed damaging, unpopular legislation because they pay no price. The rest of us do, though, and they just don’t care.