We Have Our Own Health Care Plan!
2014 was the year of the disappearing GOP promise to propose a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. It was the only way that they could plausibly keep telling their base that they would repeal the thing. Then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said it would be part of the party's agenda at the beginning of the year. By the end of the year, no bill had ever gotten a vote. The just-around-the-bend nature of the Republican alternative health care plan became a running joke among the health care press corps.
Even when some intrepid members did come up with some semblance of a plan, they ran into trouble. A trio of Senate Republicans had to quietly revise their proposal once they realized it would result in enormous tax hikes.
Obamacare Will Cost Jobs!
By February, everyone was starting to realize that HealthCare.gov had been fixed and the law's sheer enrollment totals might not be an abject failure. That might explain why Republicans seized on a new report from the Congressional Budget Office, claiming it would "cost" two million American jobs.
Except that's not what it said at all, as the CBO itself gently noted and even Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) pointed out to his misguided colleagues.
We'll Obstruct It In The States!
From the start, the GOP has been throwing a monkey wrench in Obamacare's works at the state level, blocking Medicaid expansion and refusing to set up exchanges. But Republicans went even greater lengths in 2014 to use their power at the state level to obstruct the law.
In Arkansas, conservative lawmakers nearly derailed the state's unique Medicaid expansion plan in its second year. Several Republican legislatures passed preemptive legislation to block Medicaid expansion in case endangered GOP incumbents lost re-election. GOP lawmakers in Virginia managed to stop Medicaid expansion by persuading one of their Democratic counterparts to step down with a juicy job offer.
The Law Doesn't Say What You Think It Says!
Now that obstruction could actually yield results, from the Republican point of view. Nobody gave much credence to the lawsuits that argued the law's crucial tax credits should not be available on HealthCare.gov, which serves 36 states, but then the conservative minds behind it got a federal court to rule in their favor. The whole law, they've alleged, is misunderstood.
It has required a complete re-imagining of the history behind the law, baffling congressional staffers and health care reporters who know it well. But now the U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the case, and health coverage for millions of people is at risk. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is chomping at the bit if the Court guts it.
Look At This 'Stupid' Professor Who Crafted It!
Then we concluded 2014 talking about MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, an important White House resource during the law's drafting, who was caught on tape talking about the "lack of transparency" in Obamacare's development and the "stupidity of the American voter."
Republicans gleefully leapt and Democrats comically fled a man who had been up until then a favored surrogate for the law. It climaxed with House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) asking Gruber outright during a congressional hearing: "Are you stupid?"
The Gruber-gate episode never got much more substantive than that. But it provided a handy distraction from the millions who have gotten coverage under the law in the last year.