By Bernie Becker - 07/13/13 10:00 AM EDT
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) on Saturday pressed for the dismantling of President Obama’s healthcare law, as Republicans rev up their battle against the measure.
Enzi’s message, in the GOP weekly address, comes more than a week after the Obama administration delayed the employer mandate, a key plank in the law that forces certain businesses – under the threat of penalty – to provide insurance coverage for employees.
Republicans have since latched on to that decision to seek more longstanding delays for both the employer mandate and other central parts of the law.
“No one likes to be right when what’s happening is affecting so many people in a negative way. The American people saw this coming. It’s a shame the president didn’t see it and didn’t listen,” said Enzi, who was the top Republican on the Senate health committee during the debate over Obamacare in 2009 and 2010.
“It’s time to admit that this partisan experiment in government-run healthcare is failing. To get better, they will have to acknowledge the problem.”
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Thursday that the House would vote next week to delay both the employer mandate and the individual mandate, which the Supreme Court held up last year.
Democrats have tried to downplay the significance of the Obama administration’s delay, and said the White House is merely trying to ensure that the law is smoothly implemented.
In the weekly address, Enzi notes that he warned Democrats back in 2009 that these sorts of issues could pop up, and says that it’s not too late for true bipartisan fixes to the U.S. healthcare system. The Wyoming Republican was tapped to give his party’s weekly address not long after The New York Times reported that Liz Cheney, daughter of the former Vice President Dick Cheney, was looking at running for Enzi’s seat.
“Many of the law’s authors, whether because of pride, politics or a genuine belief that the government knows best, stubbornly cling to this law that is so massive, burdensome, bureaucratic and confusing that it’s collapsing under its own weight,” Enzi said.
“We could give the failed law’s proponents a way out by searching for positive changes. We could start by dismantling the worst parts of the law first and replacing them with reforms that actually work.”
Changes to the system, Enzi says, would need to be made through public debate, not through deals hashed out behind closed doors. Policymakers should also get away from enacting broad, comprehensive measures like the healthcare law, and instead rely on more piecemeal changes.
If both Democrats and Republicans both agreed to that approach, they could find common ground on perhaps 80 percent of healthcare policy, the Wyoming Republican says.
“The challenges we face as a country aren’t going to be easy to address and certainty aren’t going away, but if we approach them in a more practical, rather than a political way, we should be able to make things better,” Enzi said. “Good policy is good politics.”