Having failed every other way to derail President Barack Obama's health-care reform, congressional Republicans are determined to block any corrections or modifications in the Affordable Care Act that could be construed as improvements, especially by employers in the current law.
They hope that by not fixing the errors, inevitable in the drafting of any legislation this size, that employers will be so annoyed by the law that they will stand with the Republicans in repealing it, which the GOP has tried and failed to do 37 times since the law passed.
But, according to The New York Times, "A coalition of large retailers, restaurant chains and temporary staffing companies, along with their powerful Washington trade associations, says it accepts the pillars of the law. But the group, calling itself Employers for Flexibility in Health Care, or E-Flex, is pressing for significant changes."
E-Flex is seeking changes in the definition of full-time worker and the definition of what constitutes a large employer, and a longer grace period to comply with the law when it goes fully into effect in 2014.
In any normal legislative era, such a group probably would get some or all of these changes. It is almost standard practice for major, complicated laws to be brought back into the shop for fixes, modifications or sharpened language, or for the jettisoning of provisions that had proved unworkable.
It happened with Social Security, Medicare, the Children's Health Insurance Program, the prescription-drug entitlement and almost every tax bill Congress has passed.
The Republican position is clear: No tweaks, no fixes, no modifications, nothing that might make the law more popular with voters when it takes full effect in 2014.
Two typical GOP views:
* "I don't think it can be fixed. Everything is interconnected, 2,700 pages of statute, 20,000 pages of regulations so far. The only solution is to repeal it, root and branch," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told the Times.
* "The reality of the ACA being on the doorstep of becoming law is it's going to begin collapsing under its own weight. I'm not so sure there are enough individual fixes to make the law more manageable," Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said, according to the Times.
Opponents don't have much time. Parts of the law -- such as coverage of pre-existing conditions, a longer stay on their parents' health plans for adult children, no lifetime caps -- have proven extremely popular.
And our politics have shown that once something is given to the American people, it is exceedingly difficult to take it away. The situation might be different if the Republicans had a better plan, or any plan, waiting in the wings. They don't.