The top issue on Greg Abbott’s campaign website is this pledge:
End ObamaCare: Committed to Fighting
and Repealing an Unconstitutional Tax
I understand that there are plenty of people who don’t like the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, and obviously, Greg Abbott is one of them.
Would Greg Abbott, if elected governor of Texas, have any chance in the world of fulfilling this promise? No.
The Affordable Care Act was passed in early spring, 2010. Four things happened:
- Republicans immediately began filing bills in Congress to overturn it. As of November, 2013, 47 bills challenging some or all aspects of the law were brought to a vote, and 47 bills failed.
- Lawsuits were filed challenging the constitutionality of the A.C.A. One, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, was heard by the United States Supreme Court. The case declared, in a decision written by Bush-appointee Chief Justice John Roberts, that the law is constitutional, and even that it is a constitutional tax.
- Doctors, hospitals, clinics, nonprofits, insurance companies, and state, county, and federal government agencies began preparing for the changes the law would create.
- People who did not have health insurance before the law passed have started to get it, including people who, in the past, had been denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
The law exists. The court has ruled it constitutional. Businesses, governments agencies, and individuals have all moved forward with plans and actions that are predicated on that decision. It would be a gigantic, overwhelming, and destabilizing blow to our economy and our health if it all went away.
At this point, committing to fight the A.C.A. as unconstitutional tax is like committing to fight against gravity. You can keep jumping, but if suddenly you found yourself floating, you’d be pretty horrified once you realized what else had come unmoored.
If you think the highest and best use of Greg Abbott’s time is fighting against the A.C.A., you should hire him to work in a think tank or be a lobbyist. You should not elect him governor of Texas. As governor, he would have no opportunity to challenge this law in any substantive way.
When it comes down to it, we rely on our state government for rather mundane things. We need to be sure public schools are, at a minimum, adequately funded. We need roads to be paved, and water we can drink to come out when we turn the tap in the kitchen sink. We need various instruments of commerce inspected, and we need our shared resources protected. Government is a machine we depend upon, a tool we use, to keep the business of our daily lives moving forward.
I don’t think Greg Abbott sees government that way.
Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”
“What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.
“Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.”
“Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”
—Part 1, Chapter VIII, Don Quixote