Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act has always been premised on comparing an actual law, with its compromises and trade-offs, to an imaginary alternative. A Republican ad promises, “Health insurance that provides more choices and better care at lower costs, provides peace of mind to people with preexisting conditions … House Republicans have a plan to get there, without disrupting existing coverage.”
The end of the ad directs viewers to “learn more” at https://abetterhealthcareplan.com/. But when you visit the site, it’s just a big video of the same ad that directed you to the site, along with two brief sentences of text. (“There is a plan to get there. The House Republican Healthcare Plan lowers costs, provides more control and more choices to pick a plan that meets our needs, not a plan that Washington mandates.”) The Republican plan turns out to consist of an assurance that there is indeed a plan.
The Republican Party, faced with the catastrophic real-world consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act, is divided over how to proceed. Some nervous Republicans want to figure out what they want to put in place of Obamacare. Senator Mike Lee insists that Republicans repeal Obamacare first, before they decide on an alternative. And his reason is straightforward: If people saw the Republican alternative, they might not like it! “There is a lot less agreement about what comes next,” he tells reporters. “If we load down the repeal bill with what comes next, it’s harder to get both of them passed.”
That is very true. If people see what Republicans would put in place of Obamacare, they would probably rather keep the status quo. Lee is right that the best way to eliminate Obamacare is to remain vague about the alternative. It’s a little odd for him to come out and admit this, though.