I’m hearing tales of outraged citizens overcome by nausea at healthcare reform’s passage and grassroots Republicans girding for battle. Talk about extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds! I doubt many patriotic Middle Americans puked when the prescription drug add-on to Medicare passed under the Republican Congress. Obamacare is worse, but both parties have been tilting hard in the direction of more mandates and government spending for health coverage for a very long time. Nor should anyone think the GOP is seriously going to attempt to repeal this legislation — not only is it a longshot that the party will gain enough power in Washington after this November’s election to do anything dramatic, but there’s no indication that party leaders possess the will to act. The rest of the Republican high command would like voters to believe that repeal is a possibility, but here’s a bit of “straight talk” from National Senate Republican Committee chairman John Cornyn, via HuffPo:

“There is non-controversial stuff here like the preexisting conditions exclusion and those sorts of things,” the Texas Republican said. “Now we are not interested in repealing that. And that is frankly a distraction.”

What the GOP will work to repeal, Cornyn explained, are provisions that result in “tax increases on middle class families,” language that forced “an increase in the premium costs for people who have insurance now” and the “cuts to Medicare” included in the legislation.

That’s right, our putatively small-government Republicans are complaining about cuts to Medicare. And notice Cornyn says nothing about the legislation’s mandate for individuals to buy insurance. That’s the most objectionable part of the bill in principle, but it’s also a feature of Romneycare in Massachusetts. The GOP establishment has no problem with such a thing, evidently not even at the federal level.

Meanwhile, a friend brings to my attention this Facebook comment from Rep. Joe “You Lie!” Wilson:

The President signed the health care takeover into law this morning. It is time to help repeal this job-killing bill and replace it with a more affordable solution that empowers the patient, provides high-quality care and covers pre-existing conditions.

That’s what’s coming down the line: the moderate Republican approach, exemplified by Cornyn, will be to modify the bill slightly, while the more hard-line Republican approach, as suggested by Wilson, will be to replace Obamacare with new legislation that does much the same thing. The legislative path of least effort will be to make fewer rather than more changes to the law, so expect something like Cornyn’s vision to become a reality if Obamacare’s opposition makes big gains in November.