Donald Trump’s promised move against Obamacare may be swift and sudden.
Donald Trump and the rest of the Republican majority come into office with an obvious mandate and mission to fight against Obamacare. But this is tricky. As much as I wish Americans hated government intervention and demanded laissez-faire policies, the majority still want government “benefits.” So despite the exploding smartphone effect that the program has produced, the GOP will probably not give us pure abolition.
After all, while the media has massively under-reported the failures of Obamacare, we can be sure that every negative story about Trump’s efforts will be made into headlines. While the mainstream press didn’t say much about those who lost their doctors and insurance plans because of Obamacare, every anecdote about people who lose medical care because of Republicans will be published.
This is the kind of thing that makes politicians hesitate. Thankfully, there is another incentive facing Republicans—the incentive to get something done and claim victory.
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The Republican plan would take advantage of reconciliation, a budget-related mechanism to circumvent the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and prevent Democrats from being able to block legislation on their own. By striking early, the GOP could set itself up to invoke the same procedure again later in the year on a broader range of targets, including tax cuts.
The quick-strike bill, like one vetoed earlier this year by President Barack Obama, H.R. 3762, would likely set what amounts to an expiration date for the law’s financial underpinnings, leaving Congress to act at a later date on any replacement plan. That’s because more than six years after the law’s passage, Republicans still don’t have a consensus on how to replace Obamacare.
But passing something in Trump’s first 100 days would allow Republicans to claim a big win early on, and conservatives are demanding the GOP deliver quickly.
“In order to give a clear and unambiguous message there’s a new occupant in the White House, one of the first things that should be done after the oath of office is passage of a bill through reconciliation repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood,” Representative Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, said Monday in an interview.
In my opinion, defunding Planned Parenthood would be a much easier matter. Unlike Obamacare, there would be no strong constituency for Trump to pressure him to keep it funded. Tragically, there are some “centrist” Republicans who do not want to defund the baby killing operation. So far, Paul Ryan is holding firm and so is Donald Trump. We must hope they continue.
But repealing Obamacare is not so simple because there are some people who benefitted from it. Even though the law hurt many more people, there is a risk in alienating people by terminating it. We must hope that Congress will figure out a compromise that will leave the country better off without causing a political backlash in 2018 or 2020.
I don’t expect perfection from Republicans in Congress, but I hope they realize that a lot of them owe their jobs to being against Obamacare. The GOP can’t afford to leave Obamacare intact.