The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Impact of US political tussle on Asia
* It's in the Emergency Room. That's how one might characterise of the healthcare bill that US President Trump and House Speaker Ryan are trying to push through to repeal and replace Obamacare.
* Why should Asia care? On the surface, for no good reason, since it's inherently a domestically oriented policy. Dig deeper, however, and you'll realize that things are no longer as straightforward.
* With a hat tip to a Western classic, we dissect how the recent tussle at the Capitol Hill - whether the bill itself ekes through or not - could impact Asia in a good way, but also carries the risk of turning out bad or even ugly.
It wasn't supposed to be this hard. Repealing and replacing Obamacare has been a rallying cry for the Republicans since the national healthcare legislation formally known as the Affordable Care Act was passed seven years ago. During his campaign, President Donald Trump repeatedly called it a huge disaster, a stance that he has kept since assuming office. With the Republican party controlling the majority of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the backing of the White House, repealing Obamacare and replacing it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA) should have been a shoo-in.
Alas, things have not worked out that way. Indeed, the vote that was supposed to take place on Thursday evening was postponed to the next day, without any firm indication as to whether the Republican leadership has secured enough votes to pass the bill.
The sticking points seem to be aplenty. For moderate Republicans, the main drawback was that the new bill is projected by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to kick as many as 24 million Americans out of coverage in a decade. For the Tea Party advocates under the Freedom Caucus, they are taken aback by the fact there would still be significant government spending. Indeed, that concern might have grown even more since the CBO released a new set of estimates showing that, because of recent amendments to try and win more moderates over, the deficits reduction compared to the original Obamacare would be just USD150bn, compared to USD337bn before.
Going by a tally by the Washington Post, 34 Republican House members have explicitly said that they will vote against the healthcare bill. Given that they can only afford a maximum of 22 'nay' votes with a presumed zero support by the Democrats in the House, it appears that the bill will not be passed as and when it is tabled.
Now, things might still turn. It is politics after all, and Trump's take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum, that either the House passes the bill as it is or Obamacare would stay, may yet swing the tally. Still, as we discuss below, whether the bill goes through the House (only to face another round of uncertainty in the Senate) or not, there are important implications for Asia from this episode: be it the good, the bad, or the ugly.
For the full report, please refer to the attachment or click here<https://www.ocbc.com/assets/pdf/Special%20Reports/Weekly%20Wander%20-%20The%20Good,%20the%20Bad%20and%20the%20Ugly%20(24%20Mar).pdf>.