"I have a plan." Photographer: Darren McCollester/Getty Images
"I have a plan." Photographer: Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Nice catch by Ezra Klein, who looks at New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown’s health-care proposal and sees…"Fauxbamacare!

Brown is picking up on a real opportunity here. The polls around Obamacare are frustrating both to the law's principled supporters and its principled opponents. There is, in theory at least, a huge opening for an unprincipled opponent -- someone who opposes "Obamacare," but supports virtually all of the policies in Obamacare.
Someone who supports Fauxbamacare.

Yup. I’ve been beating the drum on this for years, suggesting, for example, that a President Mitt Romney might replace Obamacare with the Affordable Care Act -- complete with Free Enterprise Marketplaces and Ronald Reagan Means-Tested Vouchers. The Republican version could, like Scott Brown’s, offer most of the benefits of Obamacare, but eliminate the pay-fors.

The dirty secret is most Republicans don’t actually oppose the type of reform that Democrats undertook. Oh, they oppose "Obamacare," and they've managed to convinced themselves that they oppose one or two of the provisions. But for the most part, what they oppose is the idea of it or, even worse, the fables they tell about it: "Death panels" and "government takeovers" and "socialism," but not the basic idea of the exchanges. That’s not to say the ACA is really a conservative plan – I think Scott Lemieux is correct in pointing out the massive differences between the actual law Democrats passed in 2010 and the ideas that Republicans previously supported, let alone the differences between the law and what Republicans actually would have been willing to pass if it was up to them (hint: nothing). That's why there is still no Republican alternative to Obamacare, and won’t be (as Paul Krugman explained today). There's just no viable policy that Republicans are willing to embrace.

That’s also why it matters that President Barack Obama is correct (and columnist Ron Fournier is totally wrong) that the debate on repealing the ACA is over. Fournier is correct that Obamacare remains unpopular, and debates over whether reform worked or not, or was a good idea or not, will likely never end. But flat-out repeal is policy nonsense at this point because the status quo ante no longer exists and can't be reconstituted; the only viable option for getting rid of the ACA requires replacing it with something. And Republicans have nothing to replace it with.

Except, of course, Fauxbamacare. Nice catch!

To contact the writer of this article: Jbernstein62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.net.