Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 | 2:01 a.m.
As they prepare to take control of the House of Representatives this week, Republican leaders are pledging a “clean” repeal of the health care law, setting the tone for the next two years.
With Democrats in control of the White House and the Senate, there is no realistic chance of a full repeal measure succeeding. Republicans, however, plan to move ahead. Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, who will become chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told Fox News that there would be a vote on the law before the president’s state of the union speech late this month.
But Republicans just don’t get it. Americans largely support the health care law’s key provisions, and a repeal would once again give insurance companies the right to exclude people from coverage because of preexisting conditions and would reinstate the so-called “doughnut hole” in Medicare prescription coverage.
This is foolish, but the Republican desire to press ahead with repealing the health care law only foreshadows what is to come. They’re playing for the 2012 election, no matter what the public wants, and that will lead to a greater partisan divide and less work done in Washington.
For example, Republicans are already intending to stall work in Congress. Eric Cantor, the incoming House majority leader, last month released the calendar for the House of Representatives that appears to leave little time for work.
Under the plan, members of the House will only need to be in Washington for a total of 123 workdays spread over 32 weeks. Only two of the weeks include five workdays, and the entire year’s workload is cushioned by long weekends and extended time away from Washington.
As well, Cantor has limited the time members have to be on the floor for votes so they won’t have to worry about rushing back to conduct the people’s business. Cantor said that his intention is to schedule votes no earlier than 1 p.m. nor later than 7 p.m. But on the first day of the week, voting won’t start until 6:30 p.m., giving members essentially an extra day off. And on the last day of the week, votes will end at 3 p.m. so members can take off early to get home.
So much for “working” for the people.
However, Republicans don’t intend to be totally idle. Cantor said the calendar would have time for “meaningful oversight.” That’s code for “witch hunt.”
Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who will be the House’s chief investigator as chairman of the House oversight panel, made that clear. Last weekend he said President Barack Obama’s administration is “one of the most corrupt administrations” in history. Issa, who tried to back off a previous claim that Obama was corrupt, will have the power to subpoena administration officials and documents, and that means he’ll be able to tie up the daily workings of government, delaying progress on important issues like creating jobs and improving the economy.
Once again, the Republicans just don’t get it. The message the American people sent in November’s election is that they want government to work. Instead, Republicans plan to deny health care to people, tie up government and take time off.
What a plan.