July 10--WASHINGTON -- If folks on Capitol Hill and those watching C-SPAN feel caught in a congressional version of Groundhog Day, it's for cause.
The vote scheduled Wednesday in the GOP-run House to repeal the Affordable Care Act marks the 31st effort to repeal, defund or dismantle the landmark heal insurance legislation since last year. The first full repeal took place early in 2011.
Rather than quell the uprising the 2010 health insurance generated, the Supreme Court decision last month to uphold the law has reignited passions. Six hours of debate opened this morning at 11 St. Louis time, with little likelihood of anything new being said. Soon after the debate began, the House became entangled in a motion by a Democrat to adjourn.
The legislation will pass. But why go through this again given that the Democratic-run Senate has no intention of taking up repeal?
"I think it's good to get people on record. The election is just around the corner," said Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth.
Republicans may have lost in the high court. But, as Luetkemeyer sees it, the decision to uphold based on the government's power to levy taxes presented opportunity.
"If you don't vote for the repeal, you're voting for an $800 billion tax increase," Luetkemeyer added. "We want to get people on the record as being supportive of an $800 billion tax increase. That's a pretty impactful vote."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, this morning also addressed the reason for another vote.
"The media asks why, why, why? It really boils down to one simple word: resolve," he said.
The court ruling was viewed as an opportunity for Democrats to resell the law which, for the most part, has not been a winning issue for them politically. But some in tough re-election races could choose to vote with Republicans and distance themselves from the White House.
It was unclear this morning whether Reps. William Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan, St. Louis Democrats locked in a primary battle for political survival, planned to take part in the debate.
The Obama administration is seizing the opportunity to trumpet the law's benefits: The Department of Health and Human Services declared this morning that the new law had enabled 348,824 Medicare recipients in Missouri to receive at least one preventive service free during the first six months of the year.
Meanwhile, a Washington Post/ABC News poll published today showed that Americans have split nearly evenly on the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling upholding the law: 44 percent oppose the decision; 42 percent support it.
But in what the pollster described as a significant change, support for the law itself spiked upward since the Supreme Court's surprise ruling. In the poll's April survey, 39 percent supported the law and 53 percent opposed it.
Now, in the aftermath of the court ruling, the poll found sentiments on the law even, with 47 percent supporting and 47 percent opposing. The nationwide poll of 1,003 adults was conducted by telephone from July 5-8 and was said to have an error margin of no more than 4 percent.
(c)2012 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services