September 18, 2015

ObamaCare Was Repealed From the Debate

There was precious little discussion of replacement plans.

There was an awful lot of sniping among candidates at this week’s Republican presidential debate thanks to CNN’s clever “let’s you and him fight” strategy. To be sure, the candidates engaged in plenty of good exchanges on critically important topics like foreign policy and immigration. But one issue that was sorely lacking was any substantive discussion of ObamaCare.

An analysis of the debate transcript finds the topic coming up only five times, with much of the credit for that going to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Cruz made the case that if Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush had appointed more conservative justices to the Supreme Court than David Souter and John Roberts, respectively, ObamaCare would have been struck down three years ago. Instead, thanks to the shockingly poor jurisprudence of Roberts and the Court’s liberal wing, the law was upheld twice.

Cruz went on to suggest that the Bushes took the path of least resistance in getting their nominees on the High Court instead of adhering to and fighting for conservative principles. (Of course, he didn’t mention that he supported Roberts at the time.) He then vowed to repeal “every word of ObamaCare.”

Walker didn’t have much microphone time, and he didn’t always make the most of what he had. Thus he missed a great opportunity to go into detail about his plan to replace ObamaCare. “I’m the only one on this stage that’s actually got a plan — introduced an actual plan to repeal ObamaCare on day one,” he said. “I’ll send a bill up to Congress, and to make sure enact it, I’m going to sign an order that makes the Congress live by the same rules as everybody else.”

And that was it.

His plan is a pretty good one, though. The key difference is a move from income-based subsidies, which would create higher marginal tax rates, to tax credits based on age. This has come under fire from some conservatives as an entitlement by another name, but the fact is, for any health care plan to succeed politically, some form of subsidy is going to come into play.

Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also managed to note that they would repeal ObamaCare, but they offered no specifics for replacement. And that’s the big argument that Republicans have been having for years. Now that the 2016 election season is upon us, this should be a focal point.

It’s not enough to say that Republicans want to repeal ObamaCare. We know that. What is needed is more discussion about replacement plans like the ones Walker, Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal have offered. The public was never sold on ObamaCare, and they will support its repeal, but only if something more conservative, more family-friendly, less expensive, and less intrusive comes in its place. The GOP candidate who devises a thoughtful plan and campaigns on it will certainly increase his or her chances of being elected the next president of the United States.

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