Republicans campaigned on a pledge to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
Now that Republicans have control of the White House and Congress, voters expect them to make good on their promise and tear up Barack Obama’s government takeover of healthcare.
But some establishment Republicans have floated a scheme to sellout Donald Trump’s plan to repeal ObamaCare.
Republican leadership in both Houses of Congress is moving toward a flawed strategy that would repeal ObamaCare, but delay its replacement for three years.
This would set up a deadline which establishment Republicans believe would force the Democrats to accept a GOP ObamaCare replacement ahead of the 2020 elections.
“They’re crossing their fingers that the delay will help them get their own house in order, as well as pressure a handful of Senate Democrats — who would likely be needed to pass replacement legislation — to come onboard before the clock runs out and 20 million Americans lose their health insurance. The idea is to satisfy conservative critics who want President Barack Obama’s signature initiative gone now, but reassure Americans that Republicans won’t upend the entire health care system without a viable alternative that preserves the law’s popular provisions.
“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,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The tentative strategy is reminiscent of Capitol Hill’s infamous “fiscal cliff” days, when Congress imposed simultaneous deadlines to raise the debt ceiling, extend expiring tax cuts and fund the government. The hope was that it would create irresistible political pressure to get behind a bipartisan mega-fiscal deal.”
There are numerous problems with the plan, however.
First, the House and Senate used the parliamentary procedure of reconciliation – the same tactic the Democrats used to pass ObamaCare – to send a full repeal bill to Obama’s desk in 2015.
The legislation contained a two-year delay.
By pushing the delay to three years, it moves replacement to beyond the 2018 midterms.
The President’s party typically loses seats in a midterm election, so the GOP majorities in both the House and Senate could be smaller or eliminated entirely.
This would only increase the Democrats’ leverage in any negotiation.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus recognizes these issues and its new leader has already said the group’s members will not accept a three year delay.
“The Republican congressman who made his name as the instigator of John Boehner’s ouster last year was set to take the reins of the House Freedom Caucus on Monday night.
And first up on Rep. Mark Meadows’ to-do list: Torpedoing GOP leadership’s tentative plans to take as long as three years to replace Obamacare.
The proposal “will meet with major resistance from Freedom Caucus members,” the North Carolina Republican vowed in an interview, calling it “the first big fight I see coming for the Freedom Caucus.”
“It should be repealed and replaced, and all of that should be done in the 115th Congress” — the two-year period starting in January through 2018 — and “not left to a future Congress to deal with,” Meadows added.”
Since Democrats are not expected to vote for any legislation that repeals ObamaCare, Republican leadership cannot afford to suffer massive defections by conservatives.
The best way to keep conservatives on board is to stick with the principles Donald Trump campaigned on: the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare.
Paul Ryan and GOP leadership should also maintain the two-year replacement window – and not roll the dice on the makeup of Congress to be sworn in after the 2018 midterms.
Republicans have maximum leverage and hold their strongest political position in nearly 100 years right now.
They should use both to their advantage.