When you’re up to your butt in alligators, it is important to remember, the original purpose was to drain the swamps.
President Trump and the Republican congressional leadership need to remember this adage as they wade through the Washington mud to repeal Obamacare.
Given the various constituencies invested in Obamacare and the Democratic Party’s opposition, no one expected the task would be easy. Even with Republican control of all levers of government, there is simply a lot of hurdles to overcome.
Ironically, judging from initial reactions from the political spectrum, the first attempt by House Republican leaders to draft a replacement bill for Obamacare must be a success—everyone hates it.
What people inside and outside of government have forgotten is that the art of politics is compromise. No one thought the first anti-Obamacare bill out the chute would be the final law. There are diverse groups vitally interested in what happens to a bill affecting one-sixth of the nation’s economy. Therefore they all want their say. Smart political leaders let them vent than develop solutions to bring in all sides in the quest for final passage.
While finding a means for replacing the discredited Obamacare legislation was not going to be easy, the measure being used as a stalking horse goes far to offering a framework for compromise.
With a bill finally out in public everyone can make potshots at it.
But once digested, it is time for every leader to relearn the art of compromise.
And there is no doubt compromise is needed.
If the media is any example, the bill as outlined seems to be all things to all interests. And mostly negative.
No matter what side of the political spectrum is being advocated, a sampling of media comments on television, radio shows, blogs, and newspapers appear to see the proposal as doomed to failure.
The left paints a horror picture of lost coverage, subsidies for the rich, and watered Medicaid funding.
Pundits from the right claim it fails to repeal all or most of Obamacare’s more odious provisions.
Caught in the middle are the American people who have indicated they like some of the provisions but feel the more draconian parts of Obamacare will over the years weigh on their families.
What President Trump and Republicans need to remember is a majority of Americans are not happy with Obamacare and want all or parts significantly changes.
The task ahead for Republicans is to remember their promise to voters, repeal Obamacare’s worst features and keep the ones Americans like.
Ironically, this may be difficult given the extreme positions held by pro- and anti-groups towards its provisions.
What is clear from every poll and focus groups is the need to permit individuals with pre-conditions to be given the right to enroll. Whether they should be penalized in some way is open for discussion.
Giving children the right to stay on their parent’s plan until age 26 is also very popular.
Expanding Health Savings Accounts will also help on several levels, not the least in encouraging Americans to save for retirement.
Not supported is the requirement to purchase coverage with specified requirements. These mandated reimbursement of some conditions are simply too broad for the tastes of many Americans. Not all Americans need pregnancy coverage.
Unlike when Obamacare was passed by single party vote, President Trump may be smart to seek bipartisan approval of the changes in the law.
By the same token, Democrats who right now are seemingly opposed to everything in Washington may find it smart politics to begin negotiating with Republicans to save parts of Obamacare.
Party leaders should start remembering the drubbing the have received over the past three election cycles. Their hold on unions may be loosening in part because the bill under consideration eliminates the tax on so-called Cadillac policies under which many labor agreements were administered.
In this age of incivility it would behoove President Trump, Republicans and Democrats to rediscover the art of compromise. The American people will be better for it.