Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the Supreme Court nears a historic decision on the fate of President Barack Obama’s health care law, Republicans are finding themselves painted into a corner by the far right wing of the party.
Over the weekend, the liberal web site Think Progress caught up with Florida Congressman Allen West and asked him about repealing the health care law. Congressman West has never been a fan of the law, but some of the more popular features illustrate the problems Republicans face.
“Well, you’ve got to replace it,” Congressman West told Think Progress. “You’ve got to replace it with something. If people want to keep their kid on their insurance at 26, fine. We’ve got to make sure no American gets turned back for pre-exisiting conditions, that’s fine. Keep the [Medicare] doughnut hole closed, that’s fine. But what I just talked to you about, maybe 20, 25 pages of legislation.”
But while West and other conservatives in Congress may be considering keeping in place some of the most popular parts of the law, conservative advocates like Freedom Works, which funded and organized the Tea Party, and the Club for Growth are not buying in to keeping any part of the law.
“The Club for Growth supports complete repeal of Obamacare. And complete doesn’t mean partial; it means complete,” Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller told the website Talking Points Memo. “We urge the so-called ‘tea-party’ Republicans to keep their promises to voters and continue to fight for complete repeal as well.”
A spokesman for FreedomWorks went further expressing disdain for the elimination of the more popular provisions.
“It’s not the Republicans’ fault if 25-year-old slackers suddenly are dropped from mom and dad’s health insurance policy,” FreedomWorks health care advocacy leader Dean Clancy told Talking Points Memo. “It’s not the Republicans’ fault if various other provisions of Obamacare are no longer on the books. The American people need to have a chance to reflect on the fact that the Democrats basically rammed an unconstitutional bill down their throat.”
Groups like FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth wield great power over Republican policy. Along with Grover Norquist’s organization, Republicans don’t want to cross any of the groups for fear of being ousted by a more conservative opponent in a Republican primary or losing precious fundraising opportunities.
But, national polling has indicated that while overall opposition to the health care law is strong; the individual provisions like the one’s Congressman West discussed are still very popular. That conundrum is what’s facing Republicans in the 2012 election.
On one side, the most conservative groups are threatening to challenge any candidate that crosses them on the health care industry. On the other, Republicans don’t want to anger the electorate just months before the general election in November.
The Supreme Court could make the job of Republicans easier with their decision. If the law is upheld, specifically the individual mandate, then Republicans can still rail against the law while allowing it to be enacted.
The Supreme Court could also invalidate the individual mandate, but let the rest of the law stand. That would allow Republicans to keep the popular parts of the law while still attacking the law as being overreaching and a failure of President Obama.
But, if the Supreme Court invalidates the entire law, then Republicans in the House will face a real dilemma of keeping the popular health care reform law’s provisions or maintaining ideological rigidity and letting the whole law remain repealed.
Voters will be the ultimate decider for both the Republicans and Democrats as health care will once again be thrust into the presidential election spotlight once the high court makes a decision.