Now that the GOP is in a position to finally stake Obamacare through its heart, this is no time to go wobbly:
A small but expanding group of Republican senators are casting doubt on whether Republicans are moving too fast to repeal Obamacare without a replacement ready.
More than five senators expressed doubts in the last week about immediately repealing the law but leaving it intact for a few years while a replacement is created and approved. Major sticking points include adding billions of dollars to the deficit and a measure included in the repeal bill to defund Planned Parenthood.
However, Republican intransigence is likely to draw criticism from major conservative groups, with one prominent organization already saying there are “no excuses” if they fail to repeal the law now.
Let’s be clear: any Republican who doesn’t vote to kill Obamacare as one of the first orders of business after Donald Trump takes office deserves to be either recalled or primaried out of office at the earliest possible opportunity. Democrats must be made to understand that they have lost, that everything Obama did is subject to overturning, and that there is a new boss in town. Otherwise, nothing will have really changed.
So let’s call the roll of the potential quislings:
Sens. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, John McCain of Arizona, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Bob Corker of Tennessee have expressed doubts about repealing the law without any replacement. Only Paul has taken action against the GOP repeal effort, voting against the budget resolution. Paul, who was re-elected in November, says he has major concerns about the hit to the deficit that repealing the law without a replacement could do.
Another major sticking point could be if repeal includes a provision defunding Planned Parenthood. House Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed Thursday that the repeal legislation will include a measure defunding the women’s health and abortion provider.
However, a similar provision was stripped in a 2015 repeal bill approved by Congress and vetoed by President Obama. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alabama and former Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois worked to kill the Planned Parenthood provision in the 2015 bill.
Collins also is also skeptical about linking Obamacare repeal to defunding the provider. She told several outlets Thursday that she is not happy about Ryan’s plan and has expressed concern about repealing the law without any replacement.
The Mark Kirk problem was settled in November. The Alaska GOP could have retired Murkowski in 2010, but blew it. And Collins has always been a wild card. This is why one of the first orders of business for President Trump is wooing enough centrist or at-risk Democrats (and there are at least ten of them up for re-election in 2018) to not have to worry about GOP defectors.
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