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The Jack Kingston case study

The GOP conundrum: if the party pushes conservative changes to Obamacare, does that mean they're "fixing" the law? And is that something the right can tolerate?
/ Source: MSNBC TV

The GOP conundrum: if the party pushes conservative changes to Obamacare, does that mean they're "fixing" the law? And is that something the right can tolerate?

There’s a fair amount of debate among congressional Republicans about how best to proceed with their crusade against the Affordable Care Act. Do they keep fighting for a repeal? Or maybe push small provisions intended to make it more conservative? Or perhaps leave it untouched, hoping it’ll just wither and die? (Working constructively with Democrats on making it more effective isn’t one of the choices.)
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), one of several House Republicans running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, seems to prefer Door #2.

[Kingston] on Monday questioned whether the Republican tactic to let the law fail was “responsible,” and touted a bill he proposed to fix a portion of the law as a path forward on ObamaCare. Speaking to local conservative radio station Z Politics, Kingston mentioned the “Small Business Fairness in ObamaCare Act” that he introduced, which would exempt some small businesses from the mandate to provide insurance to their employees under ObamaCare.

The far-right congressman, acknowledging resistance to his approach from his own allies, explained, “And there’s some criticism, ‘Well, are you helping improve this law when you make that change? And should we be doing that?’ A lot of conservatives say, ‘Nah, let’s just step back and let this thing fall to pieces on its own.’ But I don’t think that’s always the responsible thing to do.”
Kingston added, “I think we need to be looking for things that improve health care overall for all of us. And if there is something in ObamaCare, we need to know about it.”
For his trouble, published an item this morning with the headline, “Jack Kingston has Surrendered on Obamacare.” The piece, written by the Madison Project’s Daniel Horowitz, argued, “Sadly, the recent comments by [Kingston] suggesting that we should help fix the law serve as a vivid illustration of why we failed the battle to defund the law.”
Now, when a far-right blogger and a far-right congressman are at odds, it may be tempting to just sit back and watch, but there’s a larger significance to this.
Let’s put aside, at least for now, the fact that Kingston’s proposed legislation seems rather pointless, since small businesses are already exempt from employer coverage mandates. Instead, note that the Republican lawmaker has an idea that he thinks will undermine the integrity of the “Obamacare” system – he’d like to tweak the law by pushing a conservative provision that Democrats won’t like.
In theory, the right should find this appealing. Since even the most unhinged Republicans realize that repeal isn’t going to happen anytime soon, it stands to reason conservatives would encourage GOP lawmakers to change the health care system by pushing provisions that move the law to the right.
But notice what happens when someone like Kingston does exactly that – he’s “surrendered on Obamacare.” If a conservative congressman tries to advance a conservative cause, it too must be rejected, because as far as the right is concerned, that would constitute a “fix.”
It’s as if any kind of governing or policymaking on health care has been deemed outrageous on the far-right, even the kind of policymaking that advances conservative ideas. In other words, we’ve reached the point at which conservative lawmakers get slammed by conservative activists for pushing conservative health care ideas, because the conservative crusade against “Obamacare” can tolerate no divisions.