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Journalist Chris Wallace speaks at the SHRM Employment Law & Legislative Conference. Photo by Vanessa Hill
President Donald Trump can come through on his campaign promise to be a change agent if he "focuses like a laser" on domestic economic issues, such as replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to veteran journalist and host of "Fox News Sunday" Chris Wallace.
The "sweet spot" for Trump could be workplace issues, he said. "If he can repeal and replace [the ACA] and pass tax reform this year, then nothing else will matter," Wallace said at the Society for Human Resource Management Employment Law & Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
Speaking March 14, Wallace said that if the president creates "a new economic climate, with lower taxes, less regulations and new trade rules where businesses will want to create and keep jobs in the U.S.," he will be a success.
"For the working-class white voter who made the difference between Trump winning and losing [in the 2016 presidential election], jumpstarting the economy and protecting his job is what it is all about," Wallace said.
One of Trump's best moments as a disruptive force occurred during his first week in office when he met with union leaders, according to Wallace. "The head of the carpenters union said that Trump's inaugural address was the best middle-class speech he had ever heard. His colleagues, who for the most part endorsed Hillary Clinton, applauded."
Replacing the ACA
After years of opposing former President Barack Obama's health care insurance plan, Republicans offered an alternative March 6, the American Health Care Act.
"They are finding out just how hard it is to undo an entitlement," Wallace said.
There were plenty of problems with the ACA, including uncertainty for individuals and employers, rising premiums and deductibles, and insurers bailing out of the system, he continued. But 21 million people gained coverage under the law.
"The GOP have had to create a new system that does at least some of the same things as the ACA but with the trappings of free market conservative principles," Wallace said.
Republicans "want to do away with those government mandates, where you have to buy insurance or pay a penalty, and the subsidies that help people pay for the premiums. They want to roll back the expansion of Medicaid. But none of that is easy without throwing millions of people off health insurance."
The Congressional Budget Office reported March 13 that 24 million people would lose coverage over the next 10 years if the Republican health care plan is passed.
Wallace said that passing legislation that repeals and replaces the ACA "is going to be tough," but he predicted that it will happen, not necessarily because the best policy can be agreed upon, but rather for political reasons.
"Almost every Republican has been running for years on the promise that they would repeal the ACA if only they had a Republican president in the White House. Failing to pass anything replacing the ACA would be a political disaster for Trump and the Republicans."
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