You can go ahead and cue the talk of “repeal and replace,” but it’s important to understand that the slogan is merely Republican sound and fury, and signifies nothing.
To repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans in Congress would need far more than a majority. In fact, Republicans in the Senate would need far more than the 60 votes they currently require to perform the seemingly simplest of tasks. These days, you can’t declare Ottumwa, Iowa, a “generally groovy place” in the Senate without 60 votes.
For Congress to put in place new legislation that President Barack Obama opposes, and will veto at the speed of light, both the House of Representatives and the Senate would have to override that veto with two-thirds majorities. Both chambers, either before or after the upcoming elections, are more likely to declare theme sessions on the floor that include “Nude Mondays,” “Thirsty Thursdays” and “Godless Fridays” than they are to achieve those kinds of majorities against Obama.
Regardless of what any conservative luminary says, there is absolutely no chance in the next few years that Congress can overturn this law. As for presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s assertion that he will stop this program on day one if he is elected (a very busy day in the imagination of any serious presidential candidate), that may be a bit more credible. If the past few years have shown us anything, it’s that the executive privilege of the president is powerful, slippery and hard to define. Romney, if elected, would oversee federal agencies that must implement this law, and he could do a lot to slow it down, even if he is the man, in Massachusetts, who pushed the same law through.
But when senators and representatives say they’re going to put the kibosh on Obamacare, ignore them. It just isn’t in the cards.
Pictured Above: Health Care Act opponents wear masks of U.S. President Barack Obama and the grim reaper as they demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. (June 28, 2012).