The battle over Obamacare has shifted from the court of law to the court of public opinion.
U.S. House Republicans joined by five Democrats last week voted to repeal Obamacare — the landmark health care bill that was recently given a clean bill of health from the U.S. Supreme Court.
The vote marked at least the 30th time the House has voted to repeal all or part of the legislation, prompting House Democrats to charge that the GOP action is little more than repetition of a political stunt in an election year. It has no chance of becoming law because the Democratic Senate will ignore the House action.
Democrats could not be more correct in their assessment of Republican motives — the GOP action is an effort to remind the public about a key difference between the parties as the November election approaches.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled — by a 5-4 vote — that Obamacare passed constitutional muster, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority that it was not the court's job to rule on the policy's merits, just its legal merits. He said it's the voters' job to decide — through their elected representatives — whether they want to keep Obamacare.
As the well-worn cliche goes, elections have consequences.
Republican governing failures led to a sweeping Democratic victory in the 2008 election, giving Democrats commanding majorities in the House and Senate along with the presidency.
They used that majority to pass a number of important bills that have sweeping consequences, including the near-trillion-dollar stimulus spending package. Of most significance was Obamacare, the mammoth and expensive health care legislation that will have a direct impact on every American.
Voters clearly are nervous about Obamacare, and they expressed their anxiety by punishing Democrats in the 2010 congressional elections. The 2012 race represents the rubber game in this match.
Congressional Democrats defend Obamacare with zeal.
"We are very proud of what we did," said Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Republicans, meanwhile, promise to do everything they can to repeal it — a tall order considering that would require a Republican president and a Republican Congress. The GOP controls only the House now.
Those are sharp differences, the kind of differences that should make it easier for voters to choose. There's nothing wrong with that.