Jonah Goldberg

The Affordable Care Act -- aka ObamaCare -- is off to a very rocky start, and according to the law's biggest defenders, the blame falls squarely at the feet of Republicans.

It's an odd claim. Republicans did not write the law. They did not support the law. And they are not in charge of implementing it. Yet, it's got to be the GOP's fault, right?

Now it is true that Republicans have been trying very hard to kill the law. The GOP-controlled House has voted 40 times to repeal it. Conservative activists dedicated to repeal have refused to shut up and lie down. Some Republican governors have declined to expand Medicaid. Some Republican senators have leaned on outside groups, such as the NFL, to not help promote the law. And some ambitious Republicans want to use the upcoming budget and debt ceiling negotiations to force Democrats into defunding ObamaCare.

Let's go through each. Trying to repeal a law you didn't vote for and think will be bad for the country is entirely legitimate. Sometimes, it's morally compulsory. One needn't cite the fugitive slave law to demonstrate this fact. In a mid-presidency conversion, Barack Obama decided that he would do whatever he could to nullify the Defense of Marriage Act. In 1989, after a backlash from seniors, Congress repealed a Medicare reform law that didn't work as planned.

There's also something just plain weird about criticizing politicians for trying to get rid of a law that is, has been and continues to be unpopular with Americans. If ObamaCare were wildly popular, the demonization of Republicans as out of touch and radical would have a bit more plausibility.

Also, the fact that activists won't give up may be annoying to supporters of the law, but just talk to any one of them and they'll be the first to tell you that so far they've failed utterly. Similarly, asking the NFL to stay out of a bitter political controversy may be unseemly, but such actions haven't done anything to stop ObamaCare. Indeed, the GOP governors who've declined to sign up for Medicaid expansion aren't obstructing the law; they're exercising their discretion under the law.

In fact, the only person openly defying ObamaCare is Obama himself. His Department of Health and Human Services declared it would delay the implementation of the business mandate, despite the fact that nothing in the law empowers it to do so.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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