Trump pressures GOP to pass healthcare bill, but experts say it's long shot

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-25 11:55:11|Editor: ZD
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by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, July 24 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump is turning the screws on Congress in a bid to pressure them into passing a healthcare bill before they recess in August. But experts said it's a long shot.

Trump earlier this month suffered a defeat when GOP lawmakers did not support his healthcare bill, causing the White House to scramble to find a solution. The president wants to repeal and replace the current system, known as Obamacare.

On Monday, Trump turned up the heat on GOP lawmakers, pressuring them to pass a healthcare bill.

"So far, Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare. They now have a chance however to hopefully -- hopefully -- fix what has been so badly broken for such a long time," Trump said in a speech on Monday.

Critics say Obamacare is often unaffordable for many Americans, punishes Americans with fines for not opting into this often expensive plan and props up insurance companies with taxpayer dollars.

Supporters say the plan has given millions of Americans access to health insurance who previously didn't have it.

Trump's statements Monday came on the heels of comments on Saturday, when he called on Americans to phone their Senators' offices to pressure lawmakers into passing legislation soon. The president said he wants to have a bill on the table before the August congressional recess.

Some experts said if Trump does not pass healthcare legislation before the August recess, Republicans could be in big trouble.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua that passing major healthcare legislation before the August recess would be a long shot.

In Congress, the issue is difficult to solve because on one hand, there are some Republicans who want to completely gut Obamacare, even those parts of it that are popular with Americans, such as a clause that forbids insurance companies from rejecting an applicant based on pre-existing conditions. And most Democrats do not want to tweak any part of Obamacare, despite the fact that it is unpopular with many Americans.

Indeed, the stakes are high, as the president has been in power for six months and not yet done what he was elected to do -- pass legislations that would fix healthcare, immigration, the tax system and other problems.

"The only way they (Republicans) are going to get voted out of power, in terms of being a majority, is if they don't get things done," the expert said.

"It will not be any Donald Trump tweet or Russia problem that will drive them from power," he said, referring to Trump's often bombastic comments on social media and the ongoing White House Russia scandal. "It will be their inability to accomplish stuff that they promised."

O'Connell said many Republicans in Congress do not realize that they need to pass some sort of legislation on healthcare, and it needs to happen soon.

"You have to get something. You cannot campaign on something for seven years and not do something," he said, referring to yearslong GOP promises to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The major reason that Republicans cannot agree on healthcare reform is a split between moderates and conservatives in the party.

"Moderates say the current legislation doesn't solve all the problems, and conservatives say they want every line gutted in this bill (Obamacare) because it's all government overreach," he said, referring to conservatives' claims that Obamacare gives too much power to bureaucrats in Washington.

One major problem that conservatives have with Obamacare is that people who are far above the poverty line can get access to government subsidized programs that previously were only meant for the poor. That will end up being a heavy burden for taxpayers, critics said.

"This becomes a microcosm for their ability to get other big ticket items done," O'Connell said.

Indeed, there is a chance that the Trump administration and the Republicans could lose much credibility in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections. With control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, the GOP could lose that advantage if it does not fulfill its promises to enact meaningful legislations that supporters want.