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  • Donald Trump is the first president elect in history who isn't beholden to Republicans or Democrats. Will he do the right thing on Obamacare.  (Photo by Spencer Platt)

    Donald Trump is the first president elect in history who isn’t beholden to Republicans or Democrats. Will he do the right thing on Obamacare. (Photo by Spencer Platt)

    Donald Trump has an ace up his sleeve if he wants to win over critics. He isn’t wedded to Democratic or Republican orthodoxy. That allows him to show his true independence. He’ll get an early test in office to do just that on Obamacare.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan is determined to repeal Obamacare as the first order of business. Trump should stop him.

    There’s little question Ryan is grinding a political ax over the Affordable Care Act. If he gets his way, repeal will hurt millions of poor and working-class voters who supported Trump in the primary and general election.

    But Ryan doesn’t care. He’s made repealing the law his own personal great white whale and will stop at nothing to strike it down.

    Trump, on the other hand, owes Ryan nothing.

    But he does owe it to his supporters to take a more reasoned approach to the health care program.

    If he does so, he’ll not only honor a pledge to his supporters, but he’ll likely win over critics who believe he lacks what it takes to be president.

    In fact, if Trump stands up to Ryan on Obamacare, he’ll send a clear signal early on that he is not beholden to any political party. It will suggest he truly intends to rely on his own judgment to decides what’s best for the country.

    There likely will be no bigger test in the first 100 days of his administration.

    The fact is, Obamacare is helping millions of people afford health insurance. The number of people signing up through HealthCare.gov, which administers the program in 39 states, is greater than last year.

    The rush suggests people are hoping to get signed up before its trashed. Indeed, 80 percent of Americans said they support Obamacare, according to a recent study by the Kaiser Foundation.

    Half of those surveyed not only want to keep Obamacare, but they wan to expand the program. Only 25 percent of those polled want to see it abolished.

    In another telling new study, Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings reported big insurance company rate hikes this year may be a “one-time pricing correction” and is not indicative of future rate hikes. In many cases, the rate hikes are mitigated by subsidies.

    Wisconsin, Ryan’s home state, uses the federally-run exchange, Healthcare.gov. and is typical of its success.

    It’s health insurance exchange is considered “robust.” Sixteen carriers offered plans in 2016, far more than most other states, according to the Wisconsin Health Insurance Exchange.

    More than 211,000 people signed up for health insurance in Wisconsin from 2010 through 2015, according to a federal Health and Human Services report published in December. Nearly 175,000 new people had signed for coverage starting in 2017.

    In all, 224,208 state residents are enrolled in individual market plans through the Wisconsin exchange, up from 183,155 a year earlier.

    Ryan will be screwing every one of them by forcing a repeal of the law.

    Republicans are trying to soften the blow they know will come with repeal by delaying dissolution of the program for up to three years to avoid throwing 20 million people out on the street.

    But once the program is repealed, insurers will likely pull out right away, according to experts. Millions of people would lose their health insurance in just the first year, according to a recent Urban Institute study.

    A number of congressional Republicans have already figured out the folly of Ryan’s plans, including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn), who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which oversees health legislation.

    In fact, Trump once advocated for national health care systems like Canada and Great Britain. “Everybody’s got to be covered,” he told CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

    Trump should take the lead and shut down Ryan and his allies. It’s a rare chance to demonstrate leadership right off the bat, and show he’ll be a president for all the people.