Conservatives, on Obamacare Repeal -- You've Been Had

Remember November 2014? Neither do I. You didn't think they were serious about repealing Obamacare, did you?

Many House conservatives backed the budget last month and spared GOP leaders another showdown with their right flank for one big reason: They were under the impression the spending blueprint would help them — finally — get an Obamacare repeal to the president’s desk. Now they’re concerned that Speaker John Boehner and company have other plans.

Conservatives are adamant that reconciliation — the rarely used fast-track procedure that allows the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority rather than 60 votes — be used to pass a repeal of the health care law. They believed GOP leaders were on board.

But as House and Senate lawmakers have met to hash out a compromise budget over the past few weeks, conservatives noted that House Republican leaders have been talking about leaving their options open. An Obamacare repeal is a possibility, but so is a health care “fix” should the Supreme Court knock down some Obamacare tax credits in a case to be decided within a few months.

Yeah, bail the Democrats out of a massive hole of their own device, because that's "getting things done for the American people." Was there ever a man less up to the task than the current speaker of the House?

The ambiguity is causing consternation within the House Freedom Caucus, the few dozen conservatives who’ve repeatedly given Boehner grief over big-ticket items that have split the GOP. Some conservatives are pushing Republican leaders to clarify their intentions — with a public announcement, a provision in the budget or a private assurance.

“It’s imperative that [Obamacare repeal] be the focus for our reconciliation instructions,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) at a Heritage Foundation event last week, referring to the guidance the budget has to include in order to employ the procedure.

House Republicans have already voted more than 50 times to try to defund, alter or overturn the health care law that conservatives despise. The latest effort, if it happens, would no doubt fail, too — and there are some indications that GOP leaders are ready to move on. But getting a bill to President Barack Obama’s desk and forcing him to veto it would send a powerful symbolic message to the Republican base that House conservatives haven’t given up on scuttling the law.

To paraphrase Bismarck on the Balkans, the Republican Party isn't worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. The sooner it's scuttled, the better. Whether that happens from the inside or the outside doesn't matter.