Out of the Blue: What’s next after Trump’s epic health care failure? (opinion)
Out of the Blue
Some Democrats are gleefully continuing their victory lap after last week’s historic failure on the part of our new president and his upper chambers of government to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Me, I’m still in shock.
As early as election night, I wasn’t just worried about Obamacare remaining in place — I knew it was headed to the guillotine. It wasn’t as popularly derided by the Trump base as “Build the Wall!” or “Lock Her Up!”, but during rallies, if Worst Supporting Actor Razzie Winner (Ghosts Can’t Do It (1990)) Trump needed to bump up enthusiasm in his adoring crowd, a good “Repeal and Replace!” would absolutely get those “Make America Great Again” placards upraised, alongside a loud rebel yell.
But as March sinks into April, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, ostensibly not going anywhere in the near future. The legislation itself is no gorgeous gem — if anything, it’s a fine primer coat that needs serious, serious work — but its shocking resilience gives the impression that Trump might just be less competent than detractors like me have been expecting. And we haven’t been expecting much.
Again, to say I’m no fan of Agent Orange might be the single biggest understatement of the year, but tossing Obamacare out the window was a gimmie, an easy layup (to use a timely March Madness metaphor).
All three branches of government are red, and senators new and long-standing have gone happily on the record talking about how much they’ve wanted to take the shackles of the Affordable Care Act off of the wrists of the American people.
I expected an extended journey toward misery with it. Lots of folks have theories on what exactly would happen if the ACA went away, and while I’m no expert (duh), I predicted that were it to disappear, we’d see a severe uptick in health care cost.
I’m not sure exactly how that spike would have manifested itself, but if the mild rules in the ACA placed on insurance industries insist on providing subsidies at all, even just their disappearance would have altered the framework of the policy in a major way.
But, for the moment, there’s no need to worry about this.
DLT threatened senators about them losing their seats if they didn’t blindly join his crusade. After the fact, in one of the guy’s stupidest lies, Prima Donald said he never said, “repeal and replace it within 64 days,” which is stridently, embarrassingly untrue (a conservative analysis finds that he mentioned repealing the ACA upwards of 60 times during his campaign; at least three of these threats were specific about being implemented immediately upon taking office).
I understand there’s a snark in the way I’m phrasing this that might rub some readers the wrong way, but I can’t help it — I feel genuinely blindsided by DJT’s inability to get the ACA on the chopping block.
Like many Democrats, I considered Obamacare to be a limping gazelle out in the wild, truly and unabashedly in danger of getting snuffed out by the pack of rhinos stampeding its way. Yet it lives to limp another day.
And after these health care crusades came to their ignoble finales, DJT — ever the bully — didn’t take a “buck stops here” responsibility for underperformance. No, he lashed out at me and my blue warriors, to those conniving Democrats who didn’t give his Obamacare repeal and replace bill a single vote.
This is how tone-deaf a blame game like this is. Imagine DJT and his team spending a few weeks coming up with a new ice cream flavor SO GOOD that it would indeed “Make America Great Again.”
Folks in his team would try new combinations, think outside the box, even — but when Trump’s new ice cream comes to a taste test, it gets rejected. And when asked by reporters why his Trump-branded ice cream became such a debacle, Trump would point his finger and talk about how he didn’t get a single vote from the lactose-intolerant contingent. It’s their fault Trump ice cream failed.
Maybe the guy will learn from his mistakes. Even super-conservative pundits are appalled at the idea of DJT losing the Obamacare fight — one of Donald’s pals at Fox News demanded over the weekend that Paul Ryan step down after not delivering the goods. If Trump was a traditional politician, he’d smart from his bruising loss, rearrange the way he does business appropriately, and return to the killing floor, hoping a change in perspective and attitude might bring him and his party greater reward.
I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Mike Restaino is a writer and filmmaker based out of Incline Village. He is also a founding member of the North Tahoe Democrats. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.