Yesterday, incoming Vice President Mike Pence—whom no one in Indiana misses—averred that repealing the Affordable Care Act was the first priority of the new administration. However, there are a few problems with this.
The most glaring problem seems to be that despite the pablum of "repeal and replace", Russian puppet Donald J. Trump seems to admit that he doesn't have a plan with which to replace the ACA.
Then there are the frantic GOP governors who accepted the Medicaid expansion rushing to Washington to sing its praises. John Kasich of Ohio, the day before he glumly attends his former rival's inauguration, plans to testify about the benefits of Medicaid expansion. Meanwhile, in Michigan, which gave its electoral votes to Trump:
Governor Rick Snyder may not want to pay for Flint's new water pipes, but probably doesn't want to see that largesse disappear.
And, of course, you can casually peruse Twitter for evidence of Trump voters aghast that instead of repealing Obamacare, he's actually going to do away with the ACA. (Yes, people are that stupid.) Stupid as they may be, congressional phone lines may be hotting up as the public awakens from its holiday stupor to realize that electing Republicans to control every branch of government has predictable consequences.
It's still an even bet that repeal will pass in the House, constituents be damned. But in the Senate things seem a bit dicier. Rand Paul has come out against the repeal, mostly because it would add billions to the deficit. Susan Collins has also made noises about opposing the repeal. If Democrats hold firm, that's a 50-50 split. One more GOP defection and the repeal is dead.
Obviously, there's more than one way to skin a cat. The ACA can die from a thousand cuts. But if the full-frontal assault fails, that puts ACA supporters in a stronger position. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell will find it harder to do away with the act by stealth if they couldn't do it in the full light of day.
I'm not saying that the Affordable Care Act is safe. Far from it. But neither is it in sure peril. For the moment, the world of politics still obtains. And if you don't play the game, you have no chance of winning. Taking away care from 30 million citizens who didn't have it before will be a tougher nut to crack than the GOP believes it will or should be. Hubris comes before every fall.