Surprise: Senate Votes Down Health Care Repeal. What Was the Point?

Did the GOP just waste time with anti-Obamacare theatrics?

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In a party-line vote Wednesday, the Senate rejected a repeal of Obama's health care reform, The Hill's Julian Pecquet reports. The vote, however, came a couple days after a second federal judge ruled the health care law unconstitutional, and two weeks after the House voted to repeal it. Republicans show no signs of backing down, and the cases could take two years to make it all the way to the Supreme Court. Looks like the health care debate is here for the long haul.

The results of the Senate vote surprised no one--the repeal idea was widely expected to pass the house and fail in the Senate. But the GOP had its reasons for pushing it anyway. "Republicans have acknowledged their goal with the vote was to get Democrats on record as defending a law that remains deeply unpopular with large swaths of the public," Pecquet reports. Some of the 23 Democratic senators up for reelection in 2012 will face rough campaigns. Meanwhile, Republicans plan to try to block funding for implementing the health care law. Commentators, however, are a bit divided on the productivity of this strategy.

  • We Knew How This Would Play Out, The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen writes.
The only meaningful question was whether any members would break party ranks. None did. ... What we're left with is a wasted a month in which Republicans, instead of working on meaningful legislation or efforts to improve the economy, made their party's base feel good about itself. Had the repeal measure passed the consequences would have been severe -- higher deficit, higher taxes on small businesses, higher costs for consumers, higher rates of uninsured -- but Republicans did it anyway, in large part because they had the luxury of consequence-free posturing. They knew from the outset that families wouldn't actually suffer from this stunt because the crusade would inevitably fail.
  • Not a Single Dem? Hot Air's Allahpundit asks. "For cripes sake, even Ben Nelson voted against it. ... I’m glad they pushed for a vote, as this’ll be a useful bludgeon in the general two years from now against red-state Dems like Tester ... But even so: Not a single Democratic yes vote after November’s wipeout? Really?"
  • Well That Was Fun, Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis writes. "Next up? Some real work maybe?"
  • Repeal Effort Must Go Forward, Jeff G. argues at Protein Wisdom. "The House must work on refusing funding; the states given injunctive relief need to stop complying, in lieu of the federal government getting a stay; the GOP must bring the vote in both Houses consistently; and in the run-up to 2012, the defeat of ObamaCare needs to be tied to the defeat of Obama and any Democrats in the Senate."
  • Did Republicans Overpromise During the Campaigns? The Washington Post's Stephen Stromberg wonders. "House Speaker John Boehner didn't exactly guarantee outright repeal in November, but he and others in his party came pretty close. ... This is the sort of banner-waving that does more to maintain the enthusiasm of the movement (and scare opposing lawmakers) than anything else -- even if it means implicitly overestimating the chances of success. But even if it's by implication, setting expectations high is risky -- just ask President Obama."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.