Our View: GOP needs to remember that elections count

September 29, 2013 

We are wary of last-minute Republican efforts to delay, defund or otherwise alter the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. We believe the public is wary of the general tactic, too.

This is not to say we think the bill is flawless or that its impact on our economy and personal finances is going to be as rosy as its supporters predict. Fact is, nobody really knows and only time will tell.

One need only reread the mission and findings of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (aka Simpson-Bowles Commission) — ordered by President Barack Obama — to see an endless path of red flags. A particularly telling portion of the mission statement is this: “The commission shall propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the federal government.”

As the commission got under way in February 2010, a Democratic president, and a House and Senate controlled by Democrats, were pushing through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The mostly Democratic majorities prevailed. It is how we do business.

Ever since, the recommendations of Simpson-Bowles have been more ignored than implemented. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, who served with the commission, can attest to that.

Negotiating over the debt ceiling makes more sense than trying to undo the ACA. But today, on the eve of the health care act’s implementation, and with another round of debt ceiling dysfunction looming, Republicans need to understand they lost the presidency and failed to regain a majority in the Senate in 2012. The Supreme Court ignored most of their pleas.

In 2009, President Obama reminded Republican House members in a get-to-know-you meeting that “elections have consequences.” House Speaker John Boehner and his Republican colleagues often reminded the president of his quote — especially after Republicans reclaimed the House in 2010. That year, Republican Raul Labrador defeated Rep. Walt Minnick in Idaho’s 1st District, no doubt in part because of voters’ reaction to the passage of the health care law.

If it were up to the Idaho congressional delegation, the ACA would not be launching as it is on Tuesday at a marketplace near you. But it is not up to them alone.

What the president said four years ago holds true today: “Elections have consequences.”

Republicans who wish to change the world or change the health care law need to start winning elections. But even if they maintain a majority in the House and win back the Senate in 2014, President Obama’s health care overhaul could be a semipermanent part of the landscape by 2016.

If Republicans want to recapture the White House and both chambers of Congress so they can delay, defund or otherwise alter things such as the ACA, they need to start by avoiding contentious 10-headed-beast primary seasons that result in candidates such as John McCain (with Sarah Palin) and Mitt Romney, whose charms and intellect did not persuade. They must ramp up their discernment and weed out the Ted Cruz and Todd Akins types before it’s too late.

Enough already with the endless attempts at end-run strategies to overcome election losses. Find and field some people who can win, Republicans, and you will get your way.

“Our View” is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.

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