In less than three weeks’ time, when Donald Trump becomes our next president, he will take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
It is fitting, then, that Trump has committed to repealing and replacing one of his predecessor’s most infamous unconstitutional policies, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. But he won’t be able to do it alone. Repealing Obamacare requires Congress to write legislation for the president to sign into law.
Congress can and should do this in January, before Inauguration Day. There is no excuse not to.
A lot has happened in the last eight years, since Nancy Pelosi first claimed “we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.” Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber reveled in the “stupidity of the American voter” and “lack of transparency” that helped pass the bill, and President Barack Obama told PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year in 2013: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”
The so-called Affordable Care Act was a mandate when Congress needed to shove it through, and it was a tax when the Supreme Court decided to look the other way.
Many thousands of Americans have lost their insurance plans or their doctors, or seen their premiums hiked up to unbelievable levels. Seventeen of the original 23 Obamacare insurance co-ops have collapsed. The massive centralization of health insurance has hurt patients and providers alike. And, of course, there has always been the rotten, unconstitutional core of Obamacare: the federal government forcing citizens to buy a product.
Being forced to live under Obamacare has motivated millions of hardworking people across our country to get involved in politics.
That’s why conservatives have been fighting against Obamacare for years. That’s why, since they swept the elections in 2010, Congress has voted over 60 times to repeal all or part of it.
They just need to do it one more time.
To avoid a predictable Senate filibuster from the left, Congress can employ the “reconciliation process”—a parliamentary procedure used to help the House and Senate pass budget bills. Obamacare repeal can be easily included in this legislation. We know, because Congress did just that to get a repeal of Obamacare on the president’s desk in 2015.
Then, Obama used a veto to protect his signature law. But in a few short weeks, Congress will be sending bills to a different president entirely.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we won’t see foot-dragging from some in Congress. When I was in the Senate, they would use every excuse to avoid fighting for conservative priorities. “Wait until we get the House.” Done. “Wait until we get the Senate.” Done. “Wait until we get the White House.” Done and done. There are simply no alternatives left but to repeal Obamacare and win the fight (a shocking prospect for some!)
Fortunately, Republicans can’t afford to throw conservatives under the bus on Obamacare repeal. Republicans have consistently campaigned on repealing Obamacare and won. It’s a promise that must be kept.
Many Americans care deeply about getting the government out of their health care decisions and finances. Being forced to live under Obamacare has motivated millions of hardworking people across our country to get involved in politics—abandoning them now would cause an electoral backlash to rival the one which put Trump in the White House.
Obama signed his namesake legislation seven years ago, and soon his successor will sign a bill to repeal it. But just as Congress made the original mistake of passing Obamacare, it must start working—now—to have that bill on Trump’s desk on Inauguration Day.
Once repeal legislation establishes a certain date when Obamacare will expire, Congress can begin a step-by-step approach to make health insurance more affordable and available for every American.