On Friday, President Trump, struggling to work with Senate Republicans to pass Obamacare reform, suggested a possible solution: maybe, just maybe, Republicans should repeal Obamacare and then replace it piecemeal. He tweeted:
Naturally, conservatives have been promoting this policy since literally before the 2016 campaign. And Trump and the Republicans refused to follow that policy prescription, because they believed that simple repeal wouldn’t be a good campaign slogan – they wanted the cop-out of being able to tell Americans that they had a super-double-secret plan to “replace” Obamacare.
It turns out no such plan existed, and that the Republican caucus is fractious and bickering, that it unites big spending “moderates” with conservative free marketers – that it’s more difficult to replace Obamacare than to repeal it outright. But only now, after months of talk about how Republicans want to destroy Medicaid and throw poor people off cliffs, does Trump come to this eminently obvious solution.
One of the great ironies, of course, is that Trump says this directly after meeting with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). You’ll recall that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wanted to first repeal Obamacare wholesale, then replace – but it was Paul who urged him not to do so, and told Trump that to do so would be a mistake. Now Paul has flipped:
This follows hard on pressure from conservative Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Ben Sasse (R-NE), who said they would push to separate repeal and replace into two pieces.
Well, better late than never. But Republicans are running out of time. They made a promise to the American people. Now it’s time to keep that promise.