The start of the 115th Congress, just three weeks prior to the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, should have been a moment for unrestrained conservative celebration. Despite losing some seats in the Senate, Republicans are in the strongest position they’ve occupied in many years. With a GOP president about to take a seat in the Oval Office, this is the party’s chance to undo the damage of Barack Obama.
So why does it feel like Republicans are already in trouble?
As unbelievable as it may seem, it appears that the party’s elected lawmakers have not yet settled on a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. The GOP has been pushing to scrap the Affordable Care Act since it was passed, both legislatively and rhetorically. They’ve had six years to design a repeal/replacement plan that would blow Obamacare out of the water. And yet they’re up there on Capitol Hill acting like they never actually thought this day would come.
To avoid admitting that they’ve been caught without a bill, they are reportedly considering a repeal-and-delay strategy. They want to go ahead and repeal the ACA now so they can show their constituents that they mean business. But since they aren’t sure how to replace it, they’re going to kick that part of the plan down the line while they cook up a new healthcare law.
Some Republicans think that strategy will lead to disaster.
“I think it’s imperative that Republicans do a replacement simultaneous to repeal,” Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday. “If they don’t, Obamacare continues to unravel.”
Paul’s fear is that the majority of health insurance companies will pull out of the marketplace once Congress passes a repeal bill, even if the effective date is set years in the future.
“We need to think through how we do this, and it’s a huge mistake for Republicans if they do not vote for replacement on the same day as we vote for repeal,” Paul said.
In the meantime, President Obama headed up to the Capitol for a meeting with Democrats, where he reportedly psyched them up for a vicious fight to protect his signature healthcare law.
“Despite the negativity, you have a big chunk of the country that wants this thing to succeed,” Obama said. “That the country is clamoring to undo this thing is simply untrue.”
Republicans have all the pieces in place to wash the stain of Obama’s socialist agenda out of the country, but they are in grave danger of losing the public will. If they fumble this to the point that the opinion polls turn against them, they’ll inevitably lose their nerve when it comes time to rid the nation of this destructive law.
It’s early days still, and our hopes are still high.
But is there a nagging sense of doom lingering on the periphery of our optimism?
Well, let’s just say this wouldn’t be the first time Republicans let us down.