Wall Street Journal editorial board comes out in favour of GOP Obamacare replacement plan

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, an important right-leaning voice, called the GOP’s American Health Care Act a historic opportunity to curtail government spending and lower taxes in a Wednesday editorial.

Calling the bill “an enormous pro-growth fiscal bonus,” the editorial board focused on the law’s projected economic effects, as determined by the Congressional Budget Office, rather than the law’s effects on healthcare coverage.

The editorial comes amid an intensifying battle within the Republican Party over the bill. President Donald Trump has pledged his full support for the AHCA, an effort led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, while conservative Republicans are calling it “Obamacare lite.” Trump reportedly warned House Republicans of a “bloodbath” in the 2018 midterm election if the AHCA fails.

The Journal’s board argued that the bill, which would reduce the federal budget deficit by $US337 billion over a decade, is a unique opportunity for conservatives to prevent a debt crisis, large tax increases, and cuts to entitlement programs other than Medicaid.

“CBO shows the bill is a far-reaching advance for the market principles and limited government that conservatives usually favour,” the board wrote.

The board hailed the bill’s significant cuts to Medicaid — $US880 billion over a decade, which the CBO estimates would help cause 14 million people be removed from the rolls of the program by 2026.

“When was the last time a government program got 25% smaller?” the board wrote. “As with welfare, we should want fewer Americans to need Medicaid.”

While conservative Republicans support large cuts to Medicaid, more moderate GOP leaders, particularly lawmakers from states where Medicaid expansion under Obamacare has been popular, have been critical of cuts.

The editorial also praised the bill’s tax cuts, including a 3.8% reduction in the capital gains tax, which it called Obamacare’s “most damaging tax.” Democrats have criticised Trump for apparently reversing his position on capital gains taxes, about half of which affect the top 0.1% of earners.

The editorial board argued that Republicans would regret taking a hardline against the replacement legislation.

“If conservatives fumble this repeal-and-replace moment, they won’t get another chance,” the board wrote. “And they will have squandered their best opening in a generation to control the size and scope of the federal Leviathan.”

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