FDR had the New Deal in 1933, LBJ the Great Society in 1965, and Obama the ACA of 2010. Three Democrats whose proposals and subsequent laws led to a vast constituency and the growth of the welfare state, that boogeyman of the right and unifier of the Republican party. Now, as was the case in 1980 with the ascension of Ronald Reagan, the pushback against the expansive policies of the federal government has begun anew in 2017. Republicans may have lost the battle against the New Deal and fallen complacent under the Great Society, but they are determined not to lose the battle against Obamacare.
Having swept the Senate and the White House in the 2016 elections with a clear mandate against Obamacare, the Republicans felt a renewed vigor in their crusade against the policy that had dogged them since 2010. Eager to finally reverse the healthcare reform that had led to rising premiums, inflated the national debt, and stifled many small businesses, the House Republicans hastily put together a bill with the endorsement of Speaker Paul Ryan. Reflecting its hasty nature and pandering to the general public rather than seven years of planning, the bill was dead on arrival to the House floor with even the most ardent opponents of Obamacare, the Freedom Caucus, refusing to vote in favor of the bill affectionately dubbed “Obamacare Lite.” After this colossal initial failure by the congressional Republicans, they stepped back with even President Trump vowing to back off. Then, after facing intense obstruction from the congressional Democrats on every policy and appointment that President Trump attempted, (and succeeded in many cases) the congressional Republicans championed by the president began their push to repeal Obamacare once more. Upon passing a bill in the House, now known as the designation HR-1628, the Republicans seemed en route to a victory. That is, until a comment by President Trump referring to the bill as “mean” caused a setback. The president’s comment combined with the secrecy shown by the Senate Republicans as they worked on refining 1628 has already garnered massive backlash from the American public and congressional Democrats, who refer to the strenuous process of Obamacare, which they neglect to mention was predicated upon falsehoods and inconsistencies as well as Democrats altering the rules in the Senate to pass the ACA. Now the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate as it works to repeal and replace Obamacare before the act inevitably implodes
The HR-1628 bill seeks to accomplish a large portion of the republican’s agenda, namely rolling back Medicaid spending, implementing a tax credits system, restricting medical coverage of abortion, stopping federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and allowing states more freedom to customize their healthcare plans. While popular with the president and the congressional Republicans (with some exceptions) it may not appeal to the public at large. However, as we saw on June 20th, President Trump’s core constituents still believe in his mandate and in placing people in Congress who will further his agenda rather than obstruct it. Democrats have, of course, attacked HR-1628 and some of the Republican moderates have broken ranks and stated their intentions to oppose the bill. Many claim this is not the replacement needed for Obamacare, including former President Obama, and that more bipartisan work needs to be done before an appropriate replacement can be formed while others just want Obamacare out of the picture, allowing President Trump to move ahead on his agenda.
Should the Republicans fail in this conquest, as they ultimately did in fighting the New Deal and Great Society, the ACA will form a more formidable foothold and be embedded in the federal government structure as we know it. As with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, subsequent generations will never know the US without Obamacare.