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Why Obamacare Survived

When the 2016 general election delivered all three branches of the US government to the Republican Party, the time to fulfill the party's promise to "repeal and replace" Obamacare seemed to have arrived. Why haven't they succeeded?

CAMBRIDGE – Since the United States’ Affordable Care Act (ACA) – or “Obamacare” – was enacted in 2010, Republicans have been promising to “repeal and replace” it. When the 2016 presidential and congressional elections delivered all three branches of the US government to the party, the time to fulfill that promise seemed to have arrived. Yet the anti-Obamacare crusade has just been dealt a crushing blow, owing to the refusal of some Republican senators to vote for the replacement legislation.

Republicans blame their failure on the Democrats’ refusal to cooperate. But why should the Democrats help to dismantle their biggest legislative achievement of the last decade (if not longer)? The major flaws in Obamacare are not, as has been argued, unintended consequences of a poorly designed policy, which thus must be replaced; instead, they stem from Republican demands.

In any case, Republicans have majorities in both houses of Congress, so they don’t actually need the Democrats’ support to pass legislation. Likewise, President Donald Trump’s unprecedented lack of experience and general incompetence cannot be at fault, as he isn’t indispensible to the repeal and replace process.

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