Economic adviser and CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow urged congressional Republicans to resist squandering their “phenomenal opportunity” to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act during an interview Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
Kudlow, an informal economic adviser to President Donald Trump and former associate director for economics and planning in the Office of Management and Budget in the Reagan administration, said Republicans are in danger of wasting the gift they’ve been given. With control of the White House and majorities in the House and Senate, GOP officials have no excuse to delay, Kudlow said.
“I’m gonna tell you — the longer they wait, the less the economy is going to grow and the slower this process is gonna take.”
“But it’s a phenomenal opportunity. I kinda like to look at it from the plus side,” Kudlow said. “What I do know is that Obamacare is one gigantic tax hike and one gigantic regulatory hike … So, let’s get rid of the mandates and every other tax in Obamacare. And let’s open the competition. Let’s go in other states. Let’s give consumers choice.”
LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham noted that Republicans have been hemming and hawing and taking their time mulling over the best ways to deal with Obamacare and address their protesting constituents’ concerns.
“Look what Obama did with Obamacare, and no Republicans supported it, so they’re all together in opposition to Obamacare,” Ingraham said. “But now, as Trump is finding out, it’s a lot harder to do it in practice.”
Kudlow conceded that point before adding, “But gee — it’s a great opportunity. I mean, it’s a wonderful opportunity if you’ve got the White House, the Senate, and the House. It’s not going to be without its disruptions and disagreements and differences. I get that.”
The president himself addressed some of these concerns during remarks given at the White House Monday.
“Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Trump said of Obamacare. “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
Trump also said that he can’t begin implementing major tax reforms until Obamacare is handled. Ingraham said there’s “some wisdom to that” idea because Trump could use it as a “stick to hit Congress with.”
“‘You want this tax reform? I want it too. But we’ve got to do this,'” Ingraham paraphrased Trump, before noting that the president would be lagging on one of his key campaign promises if he waited on tax reforms.
“He said he was going to do this on Day One. And obviously we’re in the fifth week now. That’s fine, but he’s got to get this done,” Ingraham said.
Kudlow, however, took issue with the proposed idea of waiting to pursue tax reform until Obamacare is dealt with effectively. Those suffering under Obamacare, tax hikes, and regulations are growing impatient, he said, and the GOP can’t afford to dawdle.
“I don’t want to lose the business tax cuts,” Kudlow said. “If you do healthcare first, Laura, you’re not gonna get businesses in office. Not gonna happen. And if you wait to the end of the year and push it into next year … the economy will grow 1-2 [percent] again. And I don’t want that to happen.”
Noting that the biggest beneficiaries of tax reforms are “lower and lower-middle-class income wage earners,” Kudlow advised Congress and the president against dangling that relief just out of reach.
“So this would be a big boost to them. These employment/population ratios are so low. Everyone’s left the labor force. I don’t want them to wait on business tax reform,” Kudlow told Ingraham. “I’m gonna tell you — the longer they wait, the less the economy is going to grow and the slower this process is gonna take.”
“And by the way, you need 3-4 percent economic growth in order to have the resources to deal with Obamacare among many other things,” Kudlow said — not just a mere 1-2 percent.
As for the health insurance companies who have expressed concerns with opening up the market post-Obamacare across state lines and taking away the mandate, Kudlow said he couldn’t care less.
“My point about insurance companies is … I’m not going to shed any tears for the insurance companies. They backed this damn thing and now, you know, they made their bed and now they have to sleep in it. And since they don’t want to sleep in it, they want Congress to bail them out,” Kudlow said. “What I want is a system that’s free and competitive.”