One of the most dramatic moments in 2017 was the Senate's late night vote to try to kill Obamacare. Republicans had been trying to get rid of this law for years, and with President Trump in the White House, they finally were in a position to do so. But Republican Senator John McCain battling brain cancer put a dagger in that effort, voting no in a dramatic thumbs down gesture.
I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington. That moment encapsulates a lot of the frustrations Republicans have felt at a time where they control both the White House and Congress. They've gotten a big tax cut through. That's a major accomplishment. But other than that, their list is rather short. They haven't gotten anything done on infrastructure, on border security, and they haven't been able to get any of those big spending cuts that President Trump called for at the beginning of the year.
Health care sucked up a lot of the agenda in 2017. It's an enormously difficult issue. The American health care system is opaque, and it's complex, and people really don't like it when you try to make any changes. Democrats encountered this problem when they passed Obamacare back in 2010.
Republicans ran into it this year. Another problem? It's very difficult to get rid of a government benefit once it's been granted. They could run into this problem in 2018, as well. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he wants to pair back some of these big benefit programs like food stamps, Medicare, Social Security.
The problem is that these programs affect voters directly, and they're enormously popular. Voters could really rise up in opposition, even those who supported President Donald Trump in last year's election, if republicans try to go after these programs. So they're in a tough spot. They wanna live up to their small government conservative ideals, but they also don't wanna alienate voters as they try to hold on to Congress in the 2018 mid-term elections