Editorial: ‘The party of health care’ and its tie to Trump’s genius
“Let me just tell you exactly what my message is: The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care. You watch.”
That was King Braggart, himself, earlier this week doing what this president does best: boasting about something that won’t happen, but months later he’ll try to work to his advantage. You watch.
To review, Trump’s comment refers to his administration’s embrace of a Texas district judge’s ruling that the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, should be ruled unconstitutional. Previously, the administration and other Republicans were trying to nullify a small part of the law that forces insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions, along with several “essential” benefits, such as pregnancy and maternal health, mental health and prescription drugs. To Republican eyes, those are all items the government should not expect insurance companies to cover, at least not without exorbitant fees.
The district judge’s ruling came about after Trump’s tax cut law brought the tax penalty for not having health insurance down to zero, which triggered the judge to consider it all kaput. Many legal scholars dispute such reasoning and have called it a bogus ruling, but the administration has embraced it whole-hog.
If the Affordable Care Act, with its thousands of provisions, were rejected, the impact would be enormous. Here’s the upshot by Nicholas Bagley, professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School:
“The irresponsibility of this new legal position is hard to overstate,” Bagley writes in an opinion published in Wednesday’s New York Times. “It’s a shocking dereliction of the Justice Department’s duty, embraced by Republican and Democratic administrations alike, to defend acts of Congress if any plausible argument can be made in their defense.
“Nor is the Affordable Care Act some minor statute that can be shoved aside without disruption,” Bagley continues. “It is now part of the basic plumbing of the American health care system. It guarantees protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. It expanded Medicaid to cover 12.6 million more people, and it offers crucial protections to the 156 million Americans who get insurance through employers. Beyond that, the law forces insurers to cover preventive care and contraception without charge; changed how hospitals and physicians bill for their services; requires fast-food restaurants to post calorie counts; cut hundreds of billions of dollars of Medicare spending; imposed hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes; and much, much more.
“Unceremoniously ripping up the law would inflict untold harm on the health care system — and on all Americans who depend on it,” Bagley explained. “Yet the Trump administration has now committed itself to doing just that.”
Shocking? Not anymore. It is just Trump using his “shock and awe” strategy that defies common sense, or rational outcomes. It’s also typical of other issues that have not lived up to Trump’s promises:
• Just as his tax cut law has now saddled the nation with trillion dollar deficits — after only boosting the economy for a single year on its sugar high — not the multi-year boom Trump had promised.
• Nor did the trade war with China, that Trump claimed would be “so easy to win,” turn out to be a cake walk. A year later we’re still in the midst of it and Trump’s actions have taken a toll on Midwestern farmers, as well as steel, automotive and other industries.
• He promised coal miners he’d save their jobs, but more coal mining jobs have been lost under Trump’s first two years than at any time under President Obama.
• The nuclear disarmament agreement with North Korea is in turmoil, and Trump recently caved on economic sanctions against North Korea that his own team had advocated just the day prior. And Trump’s overt fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin still mystifies and yields no apparent good for Americans. And while the Mueller report found Trump demonstrated no collusion with Russia to sway the 2016 election beyond a reasonable doubt, Trump has not been cleared of obstruction of justice and his team has already been cited for criminal charges that make it one of the most corrupt, if not the most corrupt, in the nation’s history. The two-year investigation, in short, was not unwarranted.
• Despite Trump’s denial, climate change is now accepted science around the world, even as Trump and Republican leaders continue to play dumb. And that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Trump’s strategy on this latest health care initiative, if there is one, is similar. What Trump knows is that it’s far easier to be on the offensive tearing something down (Obamacare), than to build something to replace it. It’s why Republicans have no viable alternative. Trump also knows it’s important to try to keep this campaign pledge so he doesn’t lose the trust (even in this fake promise) his supporters cling to.
To that end, Trump has become America’s circus barker, the flimflam man out to swindle suckers into believing his con, a fast talker who keeps changing the goalposts so his mesmerized followers tire of keeping score. His game plan is to make so many outrageous comments, promises and lies that his own followers stop expecting results and instead embrace his stick-it-in-your-face attitude as his singular quality worth supporting.
Sadly, that is Trump’s genius.
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