The editorial board of USA Today asks a simple question about Republicans’ desire to repeal and replace Obamacare before this session ends, but overlooks a few major points (“What’s the rush on health care?” USA Today, 3/7/2017):
The Senate Finance Committee did not pass Obamacare until that October. This slow progress was dictated by the complexity of the subject and the bipartisan negotiations behind the scenes. In the end, Obamacare passed on a straight party vote, but not until March of President Obama’s second year, after lengthy debate and analysis.
Republicans, on the other hand, have visions of getting a repeal measure to President Trump’s desk by late April or May.
The key difference between the Obama administration and Democratic-controlled congress’s first 100 days in ’09 and the Trump administration and Republican-controlled congress of ’17 is that the latter has moved no major legislation through congress in their first 50 days, and it looks increasingly likely that they’ll finish Trump’s first 100 days without having done anything of major consequence—with the exception, of course, of repealing Obamacare, but even then there’s no solidarity on it, and they don’t have a replacement plan. A reason for that is because, as Josh Marshall points out, Republicans have escalated their rhetoric about their opposition to Obamacare since its inception with no viable way to undo it and/or replace it without a major disaster (“Why Repeal and Replace Is Going So Badly,” Talking Points Memo, 3/8/2017):
Going back seven years the Republican party has not only been committed to opposing and repealing Obamacare. It has grown to the level of almost being a core element of party ideology – not any policy on health care but opposing “Obamacare”. It was the core of the 2014 election, the core of the 2012 election and a major point in the 2016 election…
Coming up with a plan means squaring an impossible circle to bring together those who want a more palatable/’market based’ approach to ensure coverage for roughly the same amount of people and those who want to cut the taxes Obamacare was based on and let everyone fend for themselves.
It’s not just that the hastily-scribbled replacement plan is terrible and can’t possibly satisfy the polar opposite goals they want to achieve—keeping everyone covered by Obamacare covered and reducing costs by cutting the taxes that fund it—it’s that Republicans have been howling about Obamacare forever, and in all the time that it’s been in place they have not come up with anything to replace it.
And that’s why it makes no sense to compare the preparation of and for Obamacare with the non-plan the Republicans are proposing. The planning and development of Obamacare hit the ground running in Obama’s first 100 days (and beyond). Republicans haven’t come up with an idea in seven years. To think that they’ll come out with a real, detailed, comprehensive plan that actually attempts to figure out a way to keep everyone who’s covered now covered in the future, lower costs, and lower the taxes that have helped support Obamacare, and that they’ll be able to develop it and pass it before the midterm elections of 2018 is asinine. That’s why they’re rushing.