Following a vote in the U.S. Senate, the congressional Republicans in the House passed a budget resolution, 227-198, that officially kicks off the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Friday. Specifically, it's not an outright repeal of the ACA -- yet. But it establishes the reconciliation process required to erase the law with 51 votes and, obviously, without a filibuster proof majority.
The vote occurred within 24 hours of a new poll showing only 18 percent support for repealing the ACA. 47 percent, meanwhile, would prefer the best option: to amend the parts of the law that aren't working as designed, while also perhaps creating new prongs of the law to improve its affordability and customer access. 31 percent said they want to leave the ACA untouched.
It's only fair to couple this with a previous Commonwealth Fund study showing that upwards of 87 percent of ACA customers are satisfied with their insurance policies (full disclosure: this includes me). Among Republicans, the ACA enjoys a 74 percent satisfaction rate -- again, among Republicans!
Yet Paul Ryan, Donald Trump and the congressional GOP appear to be plowing forward with a repeal anyway, with or without a replacement, in defiance of popular opinion.
Why? Because your opinion is irrelevant.
We've witnessed this defiance before. You might recall how, following Sandy Hook, a pair of moderate senators, Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin, proposed a rather innocuous piece of legislation that would've implemented background checks for gun sales via the internet and at gun shows. The proposed law failed spectacularly due to the NRA's vice-like grip on the withered nutsacks of the GOP caucus. Polls showed colossal support for the law:
- Washington Post-ABC News poll, April 11-14, 2013: “Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows or online?” Support: 86 percent. Oppose: 13 percent.
- CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, April 5-7, 2013: “Some proposals would require a background check on anyone attempting to purchase a gun in order to determine whether the prospective buyer has been convicted of a felony or has a mental health problem. Please tell me whether you would favor or oppose a background check for a prospective gun buyer under each of the following circumstances. ... If the buyer is trying to purchase a gun at a gun show.” Favor: 83 percent. Oppose: 17 percent.
- Quinnipiac University poll, March 26-April 1, 2013. “Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers?” Support: 91 percent. Oppose: 8 percent.
Manchin-Toomey failed, even with almost universal support from voters and NRA members alike.
The reason, of course, is the modern Republican Party is more interested in pandering to the Fox News and AM talk radio audiences, not to mention a lengthy menu of conservative special interest groups, than doing the people's work. Any polling or facts to the contrary will be henceforth written off as "fake news" or whatever the hell else Trump blurts on Twitter. Regarding the ACA, it's simply a matter of passing a repeal law that'll troll liberals, while systematically erasing Barack Obama's legacy.
All told, popular support -- or popular opposition, for that matter -- is irrelevant in the age of Republican whimsy. And we're all due to suffer the consequences as a result.
Bottom line: the Republicans don't give a shit what you think.