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When policies get repealed

Earlier today, I argued that repeal of health-care reform is wildly unlikely, and that there aren't very many cases of new administrations overturning major pieces of recent policy. Tim Westmoreland, a former Waxman staffer and current professor at George Washington Georgetown University, writes in to remind that though it's uncommon, it does indeed happen:

I started working for the Congress in 1979, just after Congressman Henry Waxman first became chairman of the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Rosalyn Carter was the First Lady at the time, and her personal initiative was reforming Federal mental health laws. I spent the first 18 months of my job staffing the House version of her proposal, which was signed into law as The Mental Health Systems Act in 1980, about a month before the election. It was easily 50-100 pages of new programs and authorities, each a product of negotiations among House, Senate, and White House. Then came the Reagan Administration. The Act had not yet gone into effect. So in 1981, as part of the first Reagan budget legislation, I got to write the one-page repeal of the Act. "Sisyphean" doesn't begin to describe how I felt. It does happen.

By Ezra Klein  |  November 17, 2009; 6:47 PM ET
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And in case it needs to be emphasized, the mental health profession has spent much of the past 20 years picking up the pieces from Reagan's time.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | November 17, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

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