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I asked our team to pause for family time this week before kids return to school. The homepage is updated daily. The Digest returns on Monday, August 2. —Mark Alexander

Political Editors / Mar. 7, 2017

Diffusing the ObamaCare Time Bomb

House Republicans take first steps in repealing and replacing the law.

On Monday, House Republicans released an ObamaCare repeal and replacement bill. The legislation would end the most objectionable aspect of Barack Obama’s law, the insurance mandate and accompanying tax penalties, and replace it with a new tax credit program designed to incentivize individuals to purchase health insurance. Essentially, it removes the stick approach in favor of the carrot. The bill is by no means a comprehensive replacement of ObamaCare, nor is it everything conservatives ever hoped for, but it is a first step. Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning, “Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster — is imploding fast!”

The GOP has been wrestling for weeks now over how to repeal and replace ObamaCare. The truth is that it is incredibly difficult to reverse entitlements and subsidies once they have been established. Like it or not, ObamaCare was the beachhead successfully establishing a new entitlement, even though it has proven to be costly for Democrats. The precedent is now set, and a sizable portion of Americans now expect federal government involvement in supporting their health care needs. As Phil Klein of the Washington Examiner writes, “Liberals … have won the central philosophical argument, and Republicans are reduced to fighting over the mechanics.”

For Trump and the Republicans to be successful in reversing ObamaCare, they will need to be willing to work toward dismantling it via a piecemeal approach versus a completely comprehensive and decisive new law. Conservatives are right to object that the new GOP bill essentially leaves much of ObamaCare in place, but in order to be successful in the long run, short gains need to be embraced. A war is not won in one battle, and the all-or-nothing approach more often than not amounts to nothing. Republicans will need to compromise to get this done — not with Democrats dug into their anti-Trump obstructionist battle trenches, but with each other.

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