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The GOP’s Lame Efforts to Roll Back Health Care Reform

The NYT highlights three ways the new Republican majority will try to roll back the Affordable Care Act:

Republican lawmakers said, for example, that they would propose limiting the money and personnel available to theInternal Revenue Service, so the agency could not aggressively enforce provisions that require people to obtainhealth insurance and employers to help pay for it. Under the law, individuals and employers who flout the requirements will face tax penalties.

Moreover, Republican leaders said, they plan to use spending bills to block federal insurance regulations to which they object. And they will try to limit access to government-subsidized private health plans that include coverage ofabortion — one of the most contentious issues in Congressional debate over the legislation.

On the first issue, defunding the IRS, the truth is that the fines were always symbolic: “the penalties are low and enforcement is nonexistent.”  One the second issue, the Republicans plan to carry water for the insurance industry, well, good luck with that!  Even the most incompetent Democrat should be able to come up with an attack ad against any Republican who tries something like that.  Finally, the abortion thing is truly messy, but abortion politics are always messy.  If the Republicans want to re-start the Abortion debate, then that’s going to play out as abortion debates usually do, whether they’re debates over late-term abortion or federal funding in general, the contours of that debate are pretty clear, and the Democrats, in the long run, tend to do pretty well.

So, if this is all Boehner’s got, then, at the risk of sounding hubristic, bring it on.

Light, sweet disaster

I have to admit that I’m not quite sure if I should pat myself on the back or start chewing shoe now that the Louisiana oil spill shows just how dangerous off shore drilling can be. After all, I was pretty pragmatic back when Obama announced that he’d allow expanded drilling. “Will never see the light of day,” I thought, sure that this was nothing more than a political feint.

Still, I figured that the plan was to make sure than any expanded drilling came with enough bureaucratic costs that it would surely get so bogged down in process that no oil company in its right mind would ever even conceive of a serious attempt to drill for the pathetic amount of oil actually available. And so I supported the President’s announcement – very savvy, especially following the passage of the health care legislation.

And now we have an epic disaster on our hands. The benighted Gulf coast, still recovering from Katrina, now faces an ecological disaster that will capture imaginations for a generation, the Cuyahoga fire or Valdez wreck for the Twitter set. Will it change minds? Can Palin ever again utter her drilling mantra without irony, shame, or – at least – qualification? I doubt it, or at least I hope not.

The bigger question to me now is, how does this change the debate around energy policy? If Rahm Emanuel were Karl Rove, I’d almost say he’d blown up the oil rig himself, given the timing. I’m looking forward to the debate between the Red State fisherman and shrimpers along with the Red State property developers and the Red State governors and legislators versus the Red State oil interests. Talk about a wedge issue!

I’d say it would be fun to watch, but it’s a shame that it takes a tangible disaster like this for people to reconsider misguided opinion.