Throughout the six years following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the GOP voiced its opposition by passing multiple repeal bills. Given the inevitability of President Obama’s veto, Republicans were much derided by Democrats and the media for these seemingly futile gestures. But these efforts had a strategic purpose: They were intended to demonstrate to America’s voters that Republicans had a legislative path to get a repeal bill to the president’s desk—a bill that a Republican president would actually sign.
A mere five months later came another political shocker: The initial Republican effort to repeal Obamacare ran off the rails. On the eve of a planned March vote, House leaders pulled their bill, the generically named American Health Care Act, because they knew it would fail due to Republican resistance from conservatives and moderates alike. In the immediate aftermath, President Donald Trump pledged to walk away from health-care reform efforts and “let Obamacare explode.” House Speaker Paul Ryan grimly noted that the problematic 2010 legislation was “the law of the land” and that “we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”