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The Problem With "Partial Repeal"

John Cornyn says he only wants to repeal the unpopular parts of health care reform, not popular things like requiring insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions:

"There is non-controversial stuff here like the preexisting conditions exclusion and those sorts of things," the Texas Republican said. "Now we are not interested in repealing that. And that is frankly a distraction."

As Ramesh Ponnuru points out, this cannot work as policy:

Understandably, Cornyn doesn’t want to touch the most popular element of Obamacare, the ban on discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. But unless it’s modified substantially, the individual mandate has to stay too — and therefore so do the subsidies and the minimum-benefits regs. Without perhaps realizing it, Cornyn has come out for tinkering at the edges of Obamacare.

Of course, it can work as politics. You run on a promise to keep the popular elements and eliminate the unpopular ones. That's just the flip side of what Republicans have been saying they're for all along. Then, if you win, you forget about it. That's pretty much what I expect to happen.

What I hope happens is that they actually commit themselves to reform. It's a great wedge issue for Democrats -- the GOP base forces Republicans to take a position that alienates moderate voters.