Congressional Republicans readying ‘bite-size’ bills to replace Obamacare

In a feat of either extraordinary bravery or ambitious overreach, House Speaker Paul Ryan is planning to eschew accepted congressional practices and, rather than replace Obamacare with one large, unwieldy replacement, will instead present a series of smaller bills attacking the problems of the Affordable Care Act one at a time.

The GOP had originally proposed a plan to repeal Obamacare immediately but delay the replacement, which led to concerns that the increased tax burden in the interim — directly resulting from a lack of tax revenue left in the wake of Obamacare’s repeal — would be untenable.

Due also in part to the new social media landscape and increased leaks to the media, public scrutiny at every point in the legislative process has become a new reality. So Ryan and his team have attempted to address the tax issue and also adapt to the new media situation by proposing  what Fox News calls “bite-size bills,” micro bills to be passed one at a time. Fox News reports:

In a nod to the new reality, Ryan is proposing a series of smaller bills passed one at a time. It’s also a nod to the fact that Republicans can act alone to repeal, they will need Senate Democrats’ help to replace.

The risks are still substantial. Democrats will have many more opportunities to obstruct the majority so the possibility of a legislative quagmire is real. The safety net here is that if Democrats and dissident Republicans succeed in blockading key components, the leadership can fall back to delayed replacement.

Despite the risks, Ryan is banking on the public’s and Congress’ desire to see what the GOP has in store and continue to support that replacement in a graduated effort. The theory is that if only parts of the replacement are revealed at any given time, the risk of widespread disagreement, which could hold up the entire bill, is mitigated, notes Fox News. “The GOP can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate on repeal, and running a concurrent replacement dramatically increases the chance of defections,” they write.

President-elect Donald Trump indicated last week he not only wants Obamacare repealed immediately after he is inaugurated on the 20th, but he wants a replacement introduced shortly thereafter.

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