Friday, August 21, 2015

Why a GOP President Won't Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Ezra Klein explains why the next Republican President won't keep this universal 2016 campaign promise on

Is a party that brutalized Obamacare for taking insurance away from people who were happy with what they had really going to become the party that takes insurance away from millions of people who are happy with what they have? Is a party that attacked Obamacare for raising premiums on people really going to raise premiums for millions?

This is the difficult position Republicans have left themselves in. Their condemnations of Obamacare were so total, so sweeping, and so opportunistic that they're now on record against policies they would otherwise support and outcomes that are inevitable if they try to change the system.

This is why I don't believe the next Republican president really will try to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Republicans have spent the past four years attacking Obamacare for its tough trade-offs and unpopular decisions, but the moment they begin pushing a serious alternative, they'll suddenly have to deal with Democrats doing the same to them. And Democrats will be doing it from the higher ground of the post-Obamacare world: There will be millions and millions of people getting health insurance from the very program Republicans want to destroy, and every single one of them will be a possible story to use in an attack ad.

If a Republican wins the White House in 2016, he or she will have to decide whether to spend precious political capital repealing and replacing Obamacare. Imagine Marco Rubio is being inaugurated in January 2017. Is he really going to want to spend his first year on health reform rather than higher education? Does he want to begin his presidency by upending health insurance for 20 million people? Does he want to deal with the ads that will come when he tries to cut Medicare spending? Does he really want to be held accountable when employers begin cutting their health benefits and blaming "Rubiocare"?

I doubt it. Republicans have put themselves in a no-win position on health care. And so the next GOP president is probably going to decide it's better just not to play.

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