Will Republicans regret repealing Obamacare?
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Will Republicans regret repealing Obamacare?

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Repealing Obamacare is "the first order of business" for the incoming Trump administration—but some in the GOP are starting to get cold feet. Repealing the Affordable Care Act has been the Republican rallying cry for six years, and their constituents expect them to fulfill that promise. But stripping health insurance from 22 million Americans without a replacement plan could incur serious wrath from voters—and they're nowhere near a viable replacement. If they do it, will they regret it?

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Speaking anonymously, one Republican senator admitted that previously "There were no consequences" to passing bills that repealed Obamacare. Everyone knew President Obama would veto those bills, but GOP members could still tell their constituents they had tried (62 times). But now, with control of Congress and the White House, that bill will become law, and 22 million people would be stripped of health insurance. Republicans are in a serious bind: their base will punish them if they don't deliver on their promise to repeal the ACA immediately. But they have no replacement plan, and no options for those who would lose insurance under the repeal. The Democrats are rallying to defend the ACA, and warning the GOP that if they go through with this, the fallout will be on their hands.

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The consequences if Republicans don't immediately repeal Obamacare are also dire. This repeal has been their signature issue and promise for six years. Trump's website argues that

Since March of 2010, the American people have had to suffer under the incredible economic burden of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare. This legislation...has tragically but predictably resulted in runaway costs, websites that don’t work, greater rationing of care, higher premiums, less competition and fewer choices. Obamacare has raised the economic uncertainty of every single person residing in this country.

The GOP is violently opposed to the individual mandate, and argues no person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to. They say the Affordable Care Act is just another big government entitlement, that's really "about creating dependency, expanding the welfare state, and consolidating the power of the central government." With this vantage point, how do you then tell your constituents you can't repeal it just yet? They can't, unless they are willing to completely betray their base and the claims they made about the program.

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Critics warn repealing Obamacare will result in havoc for our citizens and our economy (a full repeal will cost more than $350 billion). Some estimate the repeal could result in more than 30,000 deaths. Whether you're Republican or Democrat, pro-or anti-the ACA, everyone can agree that the optics of these outcomes would be absolutely terrible for the GOP.

But the pressure is already on from right-wing conservatives,  many of whom believe repealing the Affordable Care Act would be better for American citizens and our economy.

Five Republican Senators have already have expressed serious reservations about the immediate repeal, arguing there needs to be a replacement for those who would lose their health insurance. One senator who spoke anonymously to Talking Points Memo conceded that "there's a growing sense among some of his colleagues that they need to have a replacement for Obamacare ready soon 'because we're going to own this.' " 

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