House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan renews fight to repeal Obamacare
Ryan's efforts are seen as a non-starter among Democrats
Repeal efforts may play well with GOP base if Ryan makes a 2016 presidential run
Conventional wisdom among politicos on both sides of the aisle is that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s continued quest to repeal Obamacare has a snowball’s chance in heck of going anywhere.
So when the former vice presidential nominee and potential 2016 presidential contender told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that his plan to balance the budget in a decade included a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the veteran news host echoed how many in Washington view the topic.
“Well, that’s not going to happen,” Wallace told his guest.
“Well, we believe it should,” Ryan responded. “That’s the point. This is what budgeting is all about, Chris. It’s about making tough choices to fix our country’s problems.”
Ryan says the House GOP budget will include repealing President Barack’s Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.
He knows this will be difficult, political experts say.
After all, Republicans have unsuccessfully tried to repeal Obamacare more than 30 times. This included a measure introduced in the very first week of the current session by Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican and a former GOP presidential candidate.
The Supreme Court narrowly upheld the law last year in a politically charged decision.
And a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation just after the November presidential election found that just 33% of those polled support repealing Obamacare.
Even House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, acknowledged after the election that the GOP mission to repeal the law would change.
“I think the election changes that. It’s pretty clear that the president was re-elected, Obamacare is the law of the land,” Boehner said last year in an interview with ABC News.
Boehner left room for a push to change some aspects of it, however.
“There certainly may be parts of it that we believe – need to be changed,” Boehner said at the time. “We may do that. No decisions at this point.”
Ryan gave reporters a preview of his budget on Wednesday and is expected to release it this week. He has consistently taken aim at Obamacare in previous budget proposals and on the 2012 campaign trail.
So why, in this era of heightened partisanship and amid fledgling attempts by the president to mend relationships with Republicans would Ryan toss the equivalent of a political stink bomb into the mix?
The answer is simple, political experts say. He said he would work for a repeal and he will be held to that by the most conservative members of the base in 2016 should he decide to run for president.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a surprise. It’s where he stood before the election and it’s a bargaining position,” said John Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University. “Also, it’s a classic position to take if in 2016 if he wants to run for president. He knows it’s not very realistic to try to repeal Obamacare but it’s a good way to try and get the nomination in 2016.”
Ryan is also dealing with two political realities, said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.
“He’s trying to appeal to several audiences,” Gonzales said. “There’s trying to get something done, but there’s also appealing to the party’s base.”
Ryan’s counterpart in the other chamber, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Washington, is expected to soon unveil a budget that will likely include an increase in taxes for wealthy Americans and businesses while cutting some spending as a way of addressing the deficit.
Some in the Republican base support the idea that nixing costs associated with Obamacare would help trim red ink.
Last year, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation wrote that one such effort to repeal Obamacare “would reduce direct spending by $890 billion and reduce revenues by $1 trillion between 2013 and 2022, thus adding $109 billion to federal budget deficits over that period.”
Still there are those who agree with Ryan and see Obamacare as part of the problem with the deficit.
“Paul Ryan is suggesting, the budget committee’s suggesting what’s going to come before the House before the end of the month is yes, if you want to balance the budget within 10 years you’ve got to take care of the health care expense,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said Monday on CNN. “And the problem with Obamacare is it’s making it more expensive.”
CNN’s Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.