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Leading from Behind

Mike Lee takes point against Obamacare.

Aug 5, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 44 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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No, it’s not. Many of the Republicans in Congress today were sent to Washington to derail Obamacare. “In the 2010 cycle, when I was running my campaign, there was a lot of talk that one of the first steps Republicans would take if we won would be to defund Obamacare,” says Lee.

That didn’t happen for a number of reasons, but at least in part because there were other possible ways to derail Obamacare—namely, via litigation before the Supreme Court or by electing a Republican president in 2012. Even some of those most enthusiastic about stopping the health care reforms were therefore willing to wait.

But the Supreme Court not only failed to block Obamacare, it made the law worse—a topic Lee explored in great depth in a book released earlier this summer, Why John Roberts Was Wrong About Healthcare. Lee, 42, a former clerk to Justice Samuel Alito, offers a principled and persuasive argument that Roberts had to rewrite the Affordable Care Act in order to uphold it. “Saving the ACA,” he writes, “required the majority to make fundamental changes to the law—changes that Congress never even considered, much less adopted, either before or after passing the ACA and submitting it to the president for his signature.” This judicial overreach, according to Lee, makes the need to overturn Obamacare even more urgent.

Efforts to defund Obamacare are unlikely to succeed—at least for now. Republicans would have to have spoken with one voice for their threats to be taken seriously. Too late for that, obviously.

Lee understands that it’s not enough to point to polls showing that Obamacare is unpopular or to highlight news articles demonstrating the many problems with the implementation of it. His efforts may succeed in pushing Republican leaders to come up with an actual strategy to stall Obamacare.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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