Republicans should have no trouble repealing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. They can invoke the procedure known as reconciliation, which means only 51 votes in the Senate will be needed to kill the unpopular health insurance plan. Since there will be 52 Republicans in the new Senate in 2017 and a Republican in the White House, repeal is a safe bet.
As for Obamacare itself, Republicans won’t waste their time negotiating over saving any of it. Senate Democrats want to keep the entire program alive by tinkering with its parts and bailing it out with billions in new funding. Forget that. Republicans are committed to a total replacement that emphasizes free-market incentives and patient choice. Both of those features are anathema to Democrats.
But Senate passage of a replacement is far from assured. It will take a second vote in which reconciliation will not apply. With Democrats all but certain to stage a filibuster, Republicans will need 60 votes to enact an alternate health plan. Assuming all 52 Republicans vote for it, they will still need 8 Democrats.
And that’s where President Trump comes in. Passing an Obamacare replacement is likely to require the use of the bully pulpit by Trump. And not because he’s a bully. The bully pulpit was President Teddy Roosevelt’s name for exploiting the White House as a platform to advocate a proposal or an agenda or simply making a large point.
He will have an advantage in selling a new health insurance plan: It’s bound to be an improvement over Obamacare and more popular as well. Obamacare was put together, hastily and sloppily, in secret in the office of then-Senate majority leader Harry Reid in late 2009. Republicans were offered no role, much less any concessions or compromises. Democrats took sole ownership of Obamacare and still have it.
Trump’s initial targets are the five Democratic senators up for reelection in 2018 in states he won easily (by 19 percentage points or more): Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Jon Tester of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Even without Trump’s intervention, these senators should have figured out that Obamacare is ruinous for their party and a gift to Republicans. It was chiefly responsible for the landslide in 2010 that turned the House over to Republicans. And it was an effective GOP issue in 2014 when Republicans won nine Democratic seats and control of the Senate. It worked again this year for Trump.
Obamacare is first on the list. After its removal, Republicans intend to move quickly on border security, tax reform, and regulatory relief. Trump will have to use the bully pulpit to win on those issues too.
source–weekly standard, red barnes, ward baker