Republicans’ plan to erase Obama legacy starts with chipping away at Obamacare

Congressional GOPs repeal and replace legislation may demonstrate tricky to legislate, while Democrats focus on fighting verification of Trump cabinet nominees

A Republican-dominated Congress convenes on Tuesday with a carefully crafted plan to erase much of what the Obama administration considered to be its main domestic accomplishments, beginning with the healthcare and environmental regulations.

Barack Obama is seeking to rally Democrats on Capitol hill on Wednesday for a rearguard struggle to salvage at least some of his signature legislation in the face of looming assaults over the course of the incoming Trump administration. But the partys ability to resist is impeded by Republican legislative tactics designed to minimize the power of national minorities, and the fact that 10 Democratic senators will face re-election two years from now in countries won by Donald Trump, attaining them reluctant to defy him.

In light of such handicaps, Democrats are likely to focus their limited political resources on opposing verification of Trump nominees for high office, particularly in the supreme court, and to join forces with Republican senators pushing for a thorough investigation of the Russian role in the presidential election.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate havesignalled that their first target in the 115 th Congress will be the Affordable Care Act( ACA ), widely known as Obamacare, and have made clear they will not wait for Trumps inauguration to start dismantling it.

Repeal and replace legislation has been developed since the ACA came into place in 2010, awaiting the arrival of a sympathetic chairman. The Democrat last line of defense is in the Senate, where they control 48 of the 100 seats, including two independents who normally vote with them. That devotes them the power to hold up major legislation through filibusters that would require 60 votes to overcome. So the Republican plan to start unraveling Obamacare from their first day back at work is based on the use budget measures that require merely a simple 51 -vote majority, and new procedural rules that ease budget constraints on their actions.

The main obstacle to the destruction of the ACA is not the Democrats, but the sheer complexity of unpicking its provisions, which offer taxation credits for purchasing private health insurance and allow states to expand coverage of Medicaid, a longstanding program for low-income Americans. It may be politically necessary to replace those provisions with other forms of healthcare coverage, but House and Senate Republicans are divided on how to do that, and on the overall aspirations of their healthcare counter-revolution.

Many in the House want to use Republican dominance of government to rewrite the Medicare program for the elderly that dates back to Lyndon Johnson, but there is less enthusiasm for that in the Senate. The likely outcome of such complications is that the effective date for Obamacare repeal and replacing is likely to be deferred for several years.

The other priority for the Republican majority in the first days of the new Congress will be a schemed bonfire of Obama-era regulations imposed on business and industry for environmental or labor-related reasons.

Top of the list are an eleventh-hour measure putting restricted to mountaintop-removal coal mining due to take effect on 19 January, one day before Trump enters the White House, as well as rules obliging hydrocarbon industries to reduce methane emissions and reveal their pays to foreign governments for mining rights.

The Republicans are planning to employ an obscure tool to kill these directives off promptly. The Congressional Review Act allows them to block regulations within 60 legislative days after their issue with a simple majority in the Senate.

An additional target for repeal is the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act, which provides consumer protection viewed by Republican as an undue onu on the financial sector.

Republican leaders have said that an overhaul of the tax code and a new infrastructure bill are also priorities, especially as they can assert some bipartisan subsistence. Chuck Schumer, the new Democratic leader in the Senate, has expressed guarded backing for Trumps stated aspirations for infrastructure renewal.

We think it should be large. Hes mentioned a trillion dollars. I told him that sounded good to me, Schumer told ABC News.

However, that backing is likely to melt away when it becomes clear how much of the program is based on tax breaks for corporations rather than government spending. Commentators say that the promised restructuring of the tax code is also likely to be put on hold to make way for the GOPs overwhelming priority, destroying Obamacare.

The one likely blossoming of bipartisanship in the early days of the new Congress will be the opening of an inquiry on Thursday by the Senate armed services committee into Russian hacking of the 2016 election. Democrat on the committee will be participating its chairman, Senator John McCain, and other Republican foreign policy hawks in seeking to focus the investigation on Moscows role in getting Trump elected.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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