How to Make Health Care Repeal More Than Symbolic
The House vote to cancel President Obama's health care reforms could have real value if it triggers an honest discussion about how to do health care right.
President Obama and Congress can score another success if this vote is used as more than just a symbolic, saber-rattling move from Speaker of the House John Boehner and the GOP. Republicans have demonstrated the capacity to work with the president when opportunities are present. Although the Republican-dominated House may not be as amenable to working with Obama as during last month's lame-duck session, evidence from those votes -- including the ratification of START (after some, including Arizona's Jon Kyl, vowed to shoot down the treaty) -- indicates that if the president is willing to bring Democrats to the negotiating table (even if they're kicking and screaming, as they were last month), there is ample reason to believe that the resulting discussions could be fruitful.
At the very least, those in Congress who benefited from the Tea Party movement's opposition to the 2010 health care bill now have a legitimate opportunity to share their alternative plans. That is a challenge that we should not overlook. The accountability that the Republicans asked for during the 111th Congress should be pressed on them as leaders in the 112th Congress, particularly since their recent votes indicate that they should draft a counter-solution that will get its day in the sun. The vote for health care repeal now forces Republicans to move very quickly from the role of powerless protesters to crafty politicians, requiring them to display both the willingness and the ability to work with the Democrats so that repeal and replace is not portrayed as a personal affront to President Obama.
If the Senate takes its cue from the House that another bite at the health care reform apple is needed, and if members of Congress can find a way to work together for a bipartisan solution, the nation will find itself with more confidence in and support for necessary reform.
Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and the host of the morning radio show Launching Chicago With Lenny McAllister at 5 a.m. on WVON, The Talk of Chicago 1690 AM. He is the author of an upcoming edition of the book The Obama Era, Part I (2008-2010): Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative). Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.