GOP watching the clock on ObamaCare

As Republicans enjoy their told-you-so moment on ObamaCare and the country grows increasingly concerned about the law's current and coming effects, the repeal-and-replace and defund-or-shutdown mantras of the GOP have grown quieter instead of louder. While the overused "reform" word isn't likely to be uttered, it seems "repair" is the headline of the next chapter of the healthcare debate.

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For six weeks straight, the public ingested more and more negative information about the new healthcare law. First it was some glitches with a website that made coverage inaccessible. Then came revelation that President Obama wasn't telling the truth when he said people could keep policies they liked. And now we know even those who enroll can't be sure they are actually insured because the system that will pay the insurance companies hasn't even been built.

There would have been two more weeks of bad news, but the GOP-driven shutdown drowned out the launch of the exchanges the day after the government closed up shop.

Objectively, Americans in both parties are furious and frightened. The only question now, besides how long Democrats can wait for the law to work before they run from it, is how long Republicans can criticize it before their panicked constituents ask them to fix it.

They are moving from bad poll to oversight hearing to critical advertising blitzes. But at some point, perhaps before the midterm elections next fall, Republicans could be pressed for immediate solutions. Not only does President Obama claim the law will never be repealed while he is president, but everyone knows this genie isn't being stuffed back in the bottle: Take away coverage for all and start discriminating against the sick again? Not really.

As Alexandra Jaffe reported in The Hill this week, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) thinks repeal is the best answer, but because it isn't likely he has proposed repealing the 30-hour definition of full-time employees under ObamaCare because his district suffers from high unemployment that makes it too difficult to wait out the law's collapse.

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) echoed that: "I, just like all my colleagues, want to repeal ObamaCare. We think that's the best solution for the law. But repeal is always going to be hard. Therefore, I think we have a duty as elected leaders to try to do as much as possible to protect our constituents from the harm of the law," he said.

Democrats hope Americans will soon change their minds about ObamaCare once a smoother system allows the millions of people needed to keep prices affordable to sign up. But for Republicans, it could be that ObamaCare is so bad they can't even wait for it to fail. 

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