With control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, Republicans know they’ve used Obamacare as a campaigning tactic for the last time. It’s time to put up or shut up, and their voters are not in the mood for another massive GOP betrayal. Which may be why top Republican lawmakers are now preaching patience as they try to figure out how to best go about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
According to Politico, the GOP wants to “repeal” Obamacare as early as possible in 2017, but they are planning to include within that legislation a delay that could keep the healthcare law in place for as long as three years.
“We’re talking about a three-year transition now that we actually have a president who’s likely to sign the repeal into the law. People are being, understandably cautious, to make sure nobody’s dropped through the cracks,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told the website.
The idea is that Republicans can easily pass the repeal bill, satisfy their constituents with concrete action, and then take their time coming up with a suitable replacement. They hope that by doing it in piecemeal form, they can cut down on the amount of Democratic resistance.
“I think once it’s repealed, you will have hopefully fewer people playing politics and [instead] coming together to try to find the best policy,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, according to Politico. “The blame will fall on the people who didn’t want to do anything.”
Mmm…that sounds like fantasy, quite frankly. You can see why McCarthy would think that after his fellow Republicans were smeared as “obstructionists” for eight years, but he’s apparently forgetting that the Democrats still have the mainstream media in their back pocket. If there is a fight over Obamacare’s replacement, Republicans will continue to be blamed for inaction.
And Democrats are already devising the message: “They break it, they buy it.”
That’s what Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington said about the prospect of Republicans pressuring them to go along with the replacement legislation. In other words, Democrats like Murray will gladly watch the healthcare marketplace devolve into chaos if it means sticking Republicans with the blame.
Besides that, President-elect Trump has already said he would prefer to repeal and replace Obamacare in one fell swoop, a fact not missed by Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander.
“There’s an eagerness to address it, so I think there’s no doubt we’ll start immediately to replace and repeal Obamacare, but the president-elect has said that the replacement and the repeal need to be done simultaneously, and that means to me that we need to figure out how to replace it before we repeal it,” he told Politico.
Of course, maybe Trump was under the impression that, after six long years, Republicans had already managed to devise a coherent plan to replace Obamacare.
Apparently they haven’t.