On Sunday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) appeared on CBS’ "Face the Nation" and stated that the Obamacare individual mandate should be repealed in the Republican tax bill:
Well, John, remember what the hated Obamacare mandate is. It fines American [families]. They can't afford their insurance — insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable in the first place. So this bill doesn't cut a single dime from Medicaid, it doesn't cut a single dime from the insurance subsidies, it doesn't change a single regulation [under] Obamacare. It simply says the IRS cannot fine you if you cannot afford health insurance.
So this has no impact on anyone who wants to get health insurance under Obamacare's individual exchanges or under the Medicaid expansion, under their employer's plan. It simply says that working families and poor Americans — because four out of five Americans who pay this fine make less than $50,000 — will no longer be fined for not being able to afford their insurance.
Over an hour earlier, Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney appeared on CNN’s "State of the Union" and noted that if the provision is viewed as an impediment to getting the tax bill passed, it should be removed. However, he stated that the decision will ultimately be up to the House and Senate.
Mulvaney’s exchange with SOTU host, Jake Tapper, was as follows:
TAPPER: Is President Trump at all open to the idea of dropping the provision of repealing the Obamacare mandate?
MULVANEY: Yeah, I don't think anybody doubts where the White House is on repealing and replacing Obamacare. We absolutely want to do it. If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of the tax bill, and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill that can pass, that's great. If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we're okay with taking it out. So I think it's up to the Senate and the House to sort of hammer out those details.
TAPPER: As of now, do you think it's an impediment?
MULVANEY: I don't, actually, because I think you also heard Senator Collins say something very important, which is that when we get rid of — if they do get rid of this penalty, the folks who benefit from that are predominantly folks who make less than $50,000 or a $100,000 a year. I think 58% of the folks who pay the fine make less than $50,000 and almost 80% of the people who pay that fine today make less than a $100,000. So there's actually a benefit to folks if the repeal goes away — but again, it's up to the House and Senate to try and hammer through those details.