As congressmen and senators face the electorate next week, millions of votes will turn on one simple question: Did he (she) take the pledge? The pledge to repeal Obamacare.
In recent weeks, Democratic candidates have been profuse in their determination to "fix" Obamacare. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin ran an ad saying he was going to repeal "the bad parts of Obamacare." With such sleight-of -and efforts to blunt the GOP's best issue, the question needs to be put to all incumbents and their challengers: Are you willing to take the pledge?
Here's the pledge, as formulated by www.theRepealPledge.com:
"I pledge to vote for all bills which seek to REPEAL the health care bill, HR 3590, signed into law on March 23, 2010.
"To that end, I do now and will in the next Congress endorse and vote for all measures, including discharge petitions, leading to its defunding, deauthorization, and repeal.
"I shall do so whether those measures are taken for the whole of the bill or those component parts that impose mandates, restrict patient and doctor choice and access, violate individual freedom and privacy, reduce healthy competition, increase costs, or raise taxes."
These are, of course, the 94 words no Democratic incumbent dares to utter. To do so would be risk excommunication from the high church of Obama liberalism.
Repeal, defunding and deauthorizing Obamacare will be top items on the GOP agenda for 2011. With their new congressional majorities, they are sure to pass it, and Obama is equally determined to veto the repeal.
But the real battle will be fought later in the year when the actual federal budget is drafted. Look for Congress to insert language seeking to bar the use of any funds for the enforcement of the health care law. The IRS, for example, will probably be enjoined from using any appropriated money to enforce the individual mandate, and the Department of Health and Human Services will be blocked from using funds to design and enforce cuts in Medicare spending.
Obama will, of course, veto any budget that contains this language, and the 1995-1996 government shutdown will be back with us over new issues with new antagonists.
But the centrality of the health care issue in this coming debate assures Republican success. Obama can butt his head against the stone wall of public determination to rid our country of this terrible law. But all he will be doing is to assure that his party loses in 2012 any seats they might have happened to hang onto in 2010 and that he returns to the private sector.
Through the mechanism of the pledge and the dynamics of the efforts to defund the health care changes, the authorization debate of 2010 will now play out in the appropriation debate of 2011, with results equally disastrous for the standing of the Democratic Party with the voters.
Ultimately, the Democrats of 2010 are paying the price of their arrogance in ignoring public opinion and substituting their own ideas and opinions for the views of their electorates. When voters have been as well informed as they were during the health care debate, they expect their opinions to be heard and heeded.
But when Sen. Blanche Lincoln ignored the overwhelming opposition of her voters to health care changes and voted yes, despite the opposition of almost 70 percent of her state, she was indulging in the sin of pride -- and her punishment is coming, massively, next week.
But the casualties of Obama's arrogance are only just beginning to be felt. The repeal effort will gather steam as the 2011-2012 cycle unfolds. Obama's health care law will serve as a big drain on Democratic fortunes for years to come.