by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Now Republicans are about to have control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency. There is nothing to stop them from dismantling Obamacare. So naturally they’re figuring out how to blow it.
Their new approach is called “repeal and delay,” which is to say that they’re going to repeal Obamacare but at the same time not really repeal it. The idea is to “repeal key parts of Obamacare in early 2017, but delay the implementation of that repeal until 2019 or 2020.” Why? Because Republicans don’t have an Obamacare replacement plan ready to go. After all, they’ve only had seven years to figure that out.
More to the point, they’re afraid that their replacement won’t be able to get the 60 Senate votes necessary to get past a Democratic filibuster. That’s funny. Democrats somehow managed to cobble together Obamacare after losing their 60th Senate vote. But Republicans can’t replace it without 60.
And it hasn’t even gotten difficult yet. One of the things the Democrats are counting on is that once a new government program is created, a vast encrustation of economic interests grows on top of it, and the moment anyone touches the program, all of those private interests scream. So as Republicans spend two or three years trying to come up with a replacement, the pressure will build for them not to destroy the structure on which these barnacles have grown but to amend it and only tinker with the details. Once again, Republicans will have fallen into the trap where Democrats are the benefactors showering benefits on the little guy, and Republicans are the penny-pinching killjoy accountants who do the unpopular work of reforming the Democrats’ entitlement to keep it running.
This is a sucker’s game, and there is a much simpler solution. If we’re going to repeal Obamacare, maybe what we should do first—wait for it—is to repeal Obamacare.
I would prefer a bill that is a single sentence, along the lines of “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is hereby repealed in its entirety.” If you want to get wordy, I wouldn’t object to expanding it a little: “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the name of which is a cruel joke, is hereby repealed in its entirety.”