You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Because Democrats passed laws when they had majorities, Republicans will boycott health legislation forever.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

An anticipated 22 percent increase in average insurance premiums within the Affordable Care Act exchanges has Democrats facing a new round of partisan Obamacare attacks.

This was all perfectly predictable, but it raises the question, once again, of what, if anything, Republicans will be willing to do to sand down the health care system’s rough edges once the election’s over.

Conservative writer Ramesh Ponnuru attributes the gridlock to the fact that President Obama isn’t really as open-minded about reforms to his health law as he claims to be.

For instance, Ponnuru claims, “Obama says that people who are having trouble buying insurance on Obamacare’s exchanges should receive more generous subsidies. The conservative alternative—relax the regulations that make the insurance unaffordable for them—is unacceptable to him because it would be a retreat from comprehensiveness.”

The real problem here is that Obama isn’t negotiating with Ponnuru, but with Congressional Republicans, who have only been willing to discuss significant health care reforms if they’re premised on repealing the entire health care law, and replacing it with something far less comprehensive.

Republicans on Capitol Hill haven’t, as far as I’m aware, proposed introducing a catastrophic coverage option in to the exchanges as an opening bid in a narrow negotiation over how to shield consumers from premium increases. That’s because elected Republicans (and many conservative intellectuals, for that matter) have essentially decided that because Democrats passed laws when they had majorities, Republicans will boycott health legislation forever. Or until they finally control government and can implement more radical reforms on their own. Obama presents himself as “the picture of reasonableness” on this topic, because, Ponurru’s objections notwithstanding, nobody in the other party is behaving reasonably.