For opponents of Obamacare, there is hope. And not even unrealistic hope.
Obamacare can mostly be repealed if three things happen this year: Republicans keep the House, Republicans pick up the Senate, and Mitt Romney is elected president.
Each of these things are easily conceivable. And given the likelihood that Republicans and conservatives will be energized to a fanatical degree by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare, the possibility of all three happening together is far from remote.
Republicans do not need a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate to repeal Obamacare. That’s because, as former George W. Bush budget official James Capretta explained in National Review last October, most of the Obamacare provisions are budgetary in nature and so can be run through what’s called the Reconciliation process, which only requires 50 votes.
It’s true that Obamacare includes some provisions that, on their own, might be considered non-budgetary, but not nearly as many as some may think. The entire machinery of the coverage provisions — the individual mandate, the Medicaid expansion, the employer requirements — is entirely fueled by federal money (in the form of both subsidies and penalties). Moreover, the state exchanges and the regulatory apparatus they are intended to impose are also financed by federal taxpayers. Repeal of all of these provisions, which are the guts of Obamacare, is plainly a budgetary matter, and therefore appropriate in reconciliation.
According to RealClearPolitics, some ten Senate seats in play are safely or lean Democratic, giving them a base – with seats not up for reelection this year, of 47. Republicans have a base of 45, with three seats either leaning or safely Republican. There are eight seats rated “tossups.”
And this was before the Supreme Court decision, and the heightened targeting of the Senate by conservatives that’s about to occur.
The battle over Obamacare continues.