by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Even if you were paying only very little attention, you would have gotten the distinct impression over the past four election cycles that the GOP was unalterably committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare.
It didn’t matter what year the Republicans were running (2010, 2012, 2014, or 2016) or what presidential candidate (earnest, establishment-friendly Mitt Romney or bombastic outsider Donald Trump), repeal of Obamacare remained the consistent theme.
The party didn’t leave anything in doubt. It didn’t rely on weasel words or escape hatches. Republicans pledged to, as Texas senator Ted Cruz put it, repeal “every blasted word of Obamacare.” And not in phases, not slowly over time, but ASAP.
Exaggerating only a little more than other Republicans, Donald Trump said last year that “we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. Have to do it. I will ask Congress to convene a special session so we can repeal and replace, and it will be such an honor for me, for you, and for everybody in this country because Obamacare has to be replaced and we will do it very, very quickly.”
With the House on the verge perhaps of getting a repeal-and-replace bill through, it is worth recalling the years of sweeping promises. The House bill will roll back Obamacare taxes and introduce a significant reform of Medicaid, but when it comes to the heart of Obamacare — the regulations — the bill only makes it possible for states to get waivers, based on certain conditions.
This is a bill probably worth having, even if it would have earned the derision of Republicans back in the days when they were winning elections with Churchillian statements of resolve on Obamacare. Then, it would have been considered a contemptible half a loaf — at best. Now, when Republicans actually have power, everything looks different.