Health care will taint other issues

“Obamacare,” formally known as the Affordable Care Act, has become the “gift” that keeps on taking. It has made obtaining health insurance more difficult and more expensive for millions of Americans. It is choking many already stressed state budgets. And it has locked in a federal deficit of around $100 billion a year.

Yet many in Congress have thrown up their hands and walked away from the mess.

Their frustration is easy to understand. After weeks of efforts to pass both partial and comprehensive “Obamacare” replacement bills, the U.S. Senate has made little, if any, progress. Worse than that, attitudes toward change seem to have hardened.

Perhaps it is time for lawmakers to take a break from health care and deal with important matters such as tax reform. Let us hope they have more luck there than they have with repealing and replacing “Obamacare.”

But the ACA, if left standing, will taint virtually every other issue lawmakers address. Tax reform is an example.

Clearly, it needs to be a priority. American families and businesses send too much of our hard-earned money to Washington. Both tax rates and the complexity of the tax code put a severe drag on job creation.

But in considering tax reform, members of Congress and the White House need to keep the effect on revenue in mind. The very existence of Obamacare gives them about $100 billion a year less in latitude to provide tax relief. That works out to about $1,200 a year for every family of four in the country.

It is unlikely any member of Congress — including Democrats who have opposed reform efforts — is not aware of horror stories regarding the damage “Obamacare” has done to millions of Americans. Premiums in Ohio have nearly doubled, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has said.

President Donald Trump suggested, “let ‘Obamacare’ implode, then deal.” But the ACA already has imploded.

Americans elected our members of Congress to show leadership in tackling the tough issues. They need to do just that.