The difficult politics of repeal
McClatchy's new poll testing attitudes toward health-care repeal is just more evidence that repeal, like reform itself, is going to get a lot harder when its advocates are forced to get more specific:
For now, Republicans have been talking about which policies to repeal. They want the 1099 tax gone, or the individual mandate reversed. But when they actually have to repeal anything, they're going to have to talk about what functions they want repealed. Repeal the individual mandate, for instance, and you make it possible for the irresponsible to freeload on the system, and impossible for the responsible to get insurance at low rates. You also make it impossible to end discrimination based on preexisting conditions. And do Americans really want that repealed?
Poll after poll shows that they don't, of course. And Republicans know those polling results as well as Democrats do. That's why Republicans have fallen back to purposefully misleading descriptions of their policy on preexisting conditions. But though that sort of thing works when you're writing a campaign pledge, it won't be enough if Republicans actually force the political system to focus on what they're trying to do.
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