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Trump wants to insert Obamacare repeal into tax bill -- giving Republicans a new headache as rollout stalls

As House Republicans struggle to produce their ambitious tax overhaul, President Trump weighed in Wednesday with an off-topic suggestion: How about repealing part of Obamacare and use the money saved on healthcare for tax cuts?

The idea is not original. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Okla.), who often has the president's ear, floated as much during a tweet storm over the weekend.

Cotton, joined by GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, argue that repealing the mandate that all Americans carry health insurance would save $300 billion over the decade.

Not only would Republicans be able to find more revenue needed to pay for tax cuts without having to eliminate popular deductions, but they would also score a political win after their failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, supporters reason.

But the idea creates headaches for GOP tax bill writers who are already struggling to rally lawmakers around a stand-alone tax bill. Adding Obamacare repeal to the mix would force them to wade through an additional political and procedural morass.

The savings from ending the Obamacare individual mandate comes largely if people cancel their once-required insurance coverage. Since most Obamacare recipients receive federal subsidies to lower their premiums, the government would save money if they dropped coverage.

But Republicans in the Senate have already shown, in their failed repeal votes this year, that they are unwilling to change the Affordable Care Act in ways that leave more Americans uninsured.

Trump's proposal has not appeared to gain traction. But as the president spitballs ideas -- and Republicans struggle to figure out a way to pay for their tax plan -- it may become something more for them to talk about.

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