Senate Republicans took the first step towards repealing Obamacare. As Townhall’s Matt Vespa notes:
In the early morning hours, while most of the country was asleep, Senate Republicans took the first step in repealing Obamacare, with a budget resolution that passed on a 51-48 party-line vote. A simple majority was all that was required for it to pass since Republicans will be using the reconciliation process to avoid a Democratic filibuster. The House is set to take up the resolution on Friday (via Associated Press):
The Senate early Thursday passed a measure to take the first step forward on dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law, responding to pressure to move quickly even as Republicans and President-elect Trump grapple with what to replace it with.
The nearly party-line 51-48 vote came on a nonbinding Republican-backed budget measure that eases the way for action on subsequent repeal legislation as soon as next month.
“We must act quickly to bring relief to the American people,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
This is a good start, but as we mentioned, Republicans need to tread lightly. As Freedomworks Jason Pye and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul note, the budget resolution is prohibitively and unnecessarily expensive:
While the spending levels in the FY 2017 budget resolution are nonbinding, they do send a message to fiscal conservatives about whether or not congressional Republicans are serious about tackling spending. As Sen. Paul said, Republicans aren’t exactly guardians of taxpayers’ dollars, as evidenced by the spending spree under the Bush administration.
The FY 2017 budget resolution sets revenue levels at $32.351 trillion between FY 2017 and FY 2026. Outlays are set at $40.271 trillion over the ten-year window. This means the budget resolution adds $7.9 trillion to the budget deficit.
Congress has been through this process before. In May 2015, the House and Senate passed the FY 2016 budget resolution, S.Con.Res. 11, which directed committees in both chambers to begin the process of repealing ObamaCare through reconciliation. The spending levels, budget deficits, and the increase in publicly-held debt were noticeably less.
The FY 2016 budget resolution set revenue levels at $32.237 trillion and outlays at $32.602 trillion between FY 2016 and FY 2025. The budget was actually brought into balance and, indeed, began to run a surplus in FY 2023. Overall, only $365.4 billion would have been added to the budget deficit under this budget resolution.
It’s important that conservatives understand the difference in price tag, and commit to a solution that doesn’t bankrupt the country. A bloated, unaffordable budget is a bloated, unaffordable budget, whether it comes from Republicans or Democrats. Republicans must not waste their majority position by betraying American voters and adding trillions in new debt.
Still, the opportunity is there. If Republicans can sort this out and come together on a reasonable, sensible budget resolution, Obamacare is toast.