Enacting these policies would put Democrats in a huge political bind, similar to President Trump co-opting some of their issues in his campaign.
Coming up with a bill that managed to get no bipartisan support, excited no part of their own party, writing it in secret without members even fully understanding it, then rushing to pass it shows a tone-deafness unlike any since Alanis Morissette.
The most amazing thing about this strategy is that Republicans willingly chose it. There was no urgency, no huge demand, no extenuating circumstances that forced them to rush a bill like this through. They could have just repealed and replaced later, fulfilling their promises to conservatives; or put together a well-thought-out, collaborative replacement bill later this year that reflected a great amount of research and consensus.
Or they could have done nothing, content that Obamacare would continue to implode on its own. Choosing none of these paths is baffling.
So what should they have done differently? Well, like most other parties, the most important thing for Republicans, as with most political parties in the world, is to stay in power. Approaching Obamacare as I describe below would maximize this goal.
That’s not to say it would lead to the best health-care bill possible, or even the best health insurance bill possible, and certainly not the best health care possible. But it would allow Republicans to fulfill a core promise to supporters, retain the legislative majorities necessary during President Trump’s term to pass other important things like deregulation, immigration reform, and tax reform, and likely minimize the long-term political fallout as much as one can when trying to reconfigure such a complex issue as health care.
1. Repeal Obamacare Completely, Effective in 2020
While not exactly a profile in courage, repealing Obamacare with a delayed implementation date serves a few purposes. Firstly, if fulfills promises Republicans have been making for nearly a decade. They have promised that, if they are in power, Obamacare, or any sort of mandated, government health-care, will not be on the books. It shows conservatives they can govern and will, even if kicking and screaming, make the hard choices needed.
It would also do a lot of good politically. While conservatives will of course object to any delay, I doubt it would lead to a large-scale revolt since Republicans will have kept their promises. They could also say a grace period is necessary for people to transition from exchange plans, insurance companies to create new plans, to create a new health-care paradigm, etc.
Slowly decommissioning Obamacare would do two other things. Firstly, it would help undercut the obvious arguments from Democrats, of people dying in the streets and the cruelty of people losing health insurance. Anecdotal appeals to emotion are guaranteed to follow any repeal or replacement, no matter how trivial.
When Democrats present these horror stories in the next few years, a party with a good, united message (let’s pretend this applies to the Republican Party) could simply respond that Obamacare is still in force, so all these tragedies are happening under Democrats’ health-care plan and that is precisely why they have repealed it. When insurers leave the exchanges because there is no future in them, most people don’t care about death spirals or lack of future profit opportunities, they just know that their insurer pulled the health plan and Republicans can say it was because of Obamacare’s failure, not in spite of it.
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Source: The Federalist