If Republicans Fail to Repeal ObamaCare, It Will Be a Victory (For the Welfare State).

| JUL 7, 2017 | 6:02 PM

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US President Barack Obama and Vice Presi

After seven long years, Republicans are now on the verge of finally dismantling much of the framework of the big government ObamaCare behemoth, as they've campaigned to do since 2010.

On the chopping block are government mandates and regulations, the misguided Medicaid expansion (replaced with a fiscal-friendly funding formula), and hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes that play the star role in ObamaCare's redistributive welfare scheme.

If passed, the BCRA would not only repeal much of the ACA. It would be the most meaningful welfare reform in twenty years. After winning the White House and both sides of Congress, Republicans are very close. But the only remaining thing standing in the GOP's way is, ironically, the anxious GOP itself.

Because, as it turns out, the welfare state is not giving up without a fight.

There's a common political maxim that, once passed, an entitlement can never be repealed because the resistance of those dependent on it would be too deep. Republicans' ObamaCare repeal effort is challenging this unwritten rule head-on. As they should - conservatives' timeless goals of reforming the welfare state to promote work, reigning in the budget, and limiting government, will require it.

So far, it's proving very difficult.

Left-wing activists, echoed by sympathizers in the media, are pulling out all the stops, operating a scare machine fueled by reports of people dying, of Medicaid being destroyed, of people having their insurance taken away, and anything else that makes the repeal effort sound akin to the apocalypse.

Never mind that many of these hyperbolic claims are exaggerationsdownright lies, or mischaracterizations.

Also, never mind that Democrats were the ones who single-handedly foisted the unpopular ObamaCare mess on the United States in the first place, creating unstable markets with few (if any) affordable products and abusing Medicaid, which was designed as a safety net for the truly poor and disabled, by turning it into a cost-inflating vehicle for permanent universal coverage.

None of this from the left has been surprising. What has been surprising is the sudden tepidness from conservatives, and the sudden antipathy from moderates, towards this legislation. Both sides, for very different reasons, seem to want the GOP to just drop it and start over.

The conservatives, like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, aren't wrong when they say the BCRA is not what an 'ideal' Republican health plan drawn on an empty canvas would look like. Yet politics is the art of the possible, and with just 52 votes, Senate Republicans need to do the possible, even if its just a starting point. Are they prepared to nuke conservatives' first real chance at welfare reform in a generation because it doesn't go far enough?

The moderates, like Susan Collins and Dean Heller, are in a similar position. The bill may need some changes to make it palatable to their vote, but are they prepared to abandon the idea that conservatives can responsibly but necessarily scale back big government? Are they satisfied with the status quo?

And are all of them prepared to do nothing and let ObamaCare continue to collapse? Are all of them prepared to fail to deliver on their core campaign promise?

Because be sure, if this effort fails, conservatives' dreams for meaningful entitlement reform and an ObamaCare repeal under the Trump administration will almost certainly be dead. If this effort fails, that old rule - don't touch entitlements - will emerge from the rubble twice as strong.

It will be a stinging defeat for limited government activists, whether they recognize it or not. Republicans fought the welfare state, they'll sing - and the welfare state won.

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