Health Care Repeal: First on the Tea Party To-Do List

Get ready for two years of political rough-and-tumble to commence this week in Washington

After an unusual week of temperance on Capitol Hill in the wake of the Arizona tragedy, you can expect things to heat up so fast in Washington this week that Al Gore himself may show up to document the climate change. Forget all of the talk about civil discourse and respect — that was just for last week, not forever, silly. This week the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives will bring up for debate and then for a vote the repeal of President Obama’s less-than-a-year-old health-care initiative.

So after a week of holding hands, singing kumbaya, and promising less divisiveness, Congress will deal with one of the most divisive issues in the country. A new MSNBC poll shows that 41 percent of Americans oppose the health-care bill and 40 percent support it.

You can rest assured that the House will vote to repeal it. You can also rest assured that it will not be repealed. The political theater you will watch play out over the next month will be repeated over and over again for the next two years. It is almost as if you can flip Congress over and find a label on the bottom reading “pass-reject-repeat.”

Most of the newly elected Republicans in the House won on a collective promise to repeal health care, cut federal spending and reduce the deficit. The subtext of their campaigns was to be as big of a pain in the ass to President Obama as possible. The vote this week on healthcare will put a check in the box next to the first item on their Tea Party “to do” list.

The repeal will easily pass the House and then move on to the Senate, where the real debate will begin. The Democrats still hold a slim majority in the Senate, and the White House is counting on the Democratic senators to stand united and reject every attempt to get a repeal bill through Congress.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid is a small, seemingly frail man, but Democrats are looking to him to be their bouncer, keeping this bill and every other bill passed by the Republicans that could possibly embarrass the President from ever getting through the White House doors. [SIGNUP]

It is Reid’s job to hold the 51 Democrats senators and two independents who caucus with them together in a united front to reject the repeal bill and all future Republican Tea Party initiatives. This will prevent President Obama from ever having to veto the bills. The House Republicans promise to keep sending the repeal bill back to the Senate every month, if necessary.

Pass – Reject – Repeat.

And that will be the political theatre that is our Congress over the next two years. There is a slim chance that amid all of the posturing and positioning some things will get done. For instance, several Democratic senators say they welcome the healthcare debate as a way of fine-tuning the bill. But I don’t think fine-tuning is what the Republicans have in mind or what they believe is their mandate.

Starting tomorrow, a day after Martin Luther King Day, we can expect a sharp increase in angry debate, divisiveness and incendiary rhetoric, all the things that leaders from both political parties last week agreed must stop.

So much for the new civil tone in Washington — that was just a week’s respite out of respect. Now let’s get ready to rumble.

LARRY MENDTE writes for The Philly Post every Monday and Thursday. See his previous columns here. To watch his video commentaries, go to