Republicans, who are struggling to handle the messaging about Obamacare beneficiaries losing coverage, would be setting themselves up so that the brunt of any disruption would be happening in January of an election year in which they’d be defending the Senate seats they won in their wave election year of 2014. The party would also have to be defending the presidency and fighting over control of the state governments that will redraw the boundaries for Congressional districts, which will have a major implication on House control in the coming decade.
And this is even assuming they maintain their same majorities after 2018. Republicans, though facing a favorable Senate map that year, still have to plan for the possibility that their majorities could be reduced — if not lost — given the historical tendency of the incumbent party to lose seats in midterm elections and the volatile nature of the Trump presidency.
If Democrats gain control of even one of the chambers of Congress, they could put the brakes on the plan to repeal Obamacare. There’s no guarantee that President Trump, should he seek reelection, would hold the line on repeal. A long-time proponent of single-payer healthcare who has vowed to cover everybody, he may decide he doesn’t want to go into his reelection year explaining away cuts to healthcare subsidies and Medicaid spending.
This could set up a situation similar to the “fiscal cliff” surrounding the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts at the start of 2013, with legislatures scrambling in the wee hours to come up with a compromise. It’s easy to see how lawmakers could just get together and decide to punt on the issue until after the presidential election.