On Monday, we made the mistake of suggesting that Donald Trump’s renewed offensive on Obamacare might be rooted in strategic concerns.
Specifically, we postulated that, having “won” the “no collusion” fight, the White House was set to immediately blaze new trails and revisit old battles in an effort to ensure the Roseanne base remains riled up. Here’s what we said:
… it’s important to remember that part and parcel of Trump’s shtick is insisting that there are still windmills that need tilting at – battles that still need fighting – foes yet to be vanquished.
Given that, it probably shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that the administration is going to war with Obamacare again, despite knowing the fight is fraught with political risk ahead of an election year.
The problem with trying to analyze Trump’s balderdash is that it isn’t always amenable to “analysis” because in some cases, crazy just means crazy. And when it comes to the ACA fight, Republicans on the Hill pretty clearly believe that to the extent there is a “strategy”, it isn’t a good one.
Fast forward to Tuesday and Trump has abandoned the Obamacare battle – or something. Honestly, it’s not entirely clear what the president was talking about on Monday evening when, in a series of meandering tweets, he inexplicably revealed his new “plan” of attack which apparently involves waiting in the bushes for another couple of years and then leaping out and grabbin’ the ACA by the… well… by the you know.
If you haven’t read this by now, do yourself a favor and take a stab at parsing it:
Everybody agrees that ObamaCare doesn’t work. Premiums & deductibles are far too high – Really bad HealthCare! Even the Dems want to replace it, but with Medicare for all, which would cause 180 million Americans to lose their beloved private health insurance. The Republicans………are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare. In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare. Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win……….back the House. It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America. Also, Republicans will always support Pre-Existing Conditions. The Republican Party will be known as the Party of Great HealtCare. Meantime, the USA is doing better than ever & is respected again!
All of that is verbatim – random capitalizations and typos inclusive.
What’s wrong with Trump’s new strategy? Everything, really.
First, this ensures that health care (and that is two words, neither of which need to be capitalized) will be a major issue in the 2020 presidential race, something that Democrats are more than fine with.
Second, it’s a tacit admission that there never was a plan (let alone a working group, as Trump suggested) in the first place. “Last night the president tweeted that they will come up with their plan in 2021”, Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday. “Translation: they have no health care plan. It’s the same old song they’ve been singing. They’re for repeal. They have no replace.” Here’s the clip:
And that was hardly the end of it.
Thanks to Trump (and the Justice Department), Republicans are now pigeonholed into a strategy that entails campaigning against Obamacare, insisting that if Democrats had their way, they would institute a socialist scam designed to undercut private insurance, and then telling voters that the only alternative is to implicitly endorse (at the ballot box) a secret GOP plan that nobody has seen and only exists in the president’s brain.
Is that going to work? Well, who knows. Trump’s base is notoriously gullible, so it’s entirely possible that promises of “truly great HealtCare” (with no “h”) will resonate just like he was able to pitch his corporate tax cut as a “middle class miracle” despite the fact that all of the math said otherwise.
Mitch McConnell essentially told reporters on Tuesday that he wants nothing to do with this. “I made it clear to [Trump] we were not going to be doing that in the Senate,” he said, adding that the president “accepted that [and] that he would be developing a plan that he would take to the American people.”
Asked to explain all of this on Tuesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders came up with the following:
Got that? No? That’s ok, because she didn’t say anything other than that Trump is for “cheaper, better health care”, which is a completely nebulous thing to say because what is the opposite of that? Nobody is pro-expensive health care that’s not any good. That doesn’t make any sense.
But it won’t matter, because that is the same kind of “logic” Trump uses when he demonizes Democrats on border security. That is: “They’re not in favor of my approach, therefore, they are pro-crime, pro-drugs and pro-women-taped-up-in-the-back-of-vans. Large swaths of the voting public believe that shtick, so why would they not believe Democrats on the Hill are anti-cheap, quality health care?
NY Mag’s Trump Downgrades GOP Health Plan Status From ‘Great’ to ‘Will Exist Soon’“. We’ll leave you with three quick excerpts:
Last week, President Trump stunned his own party by declaring that, in the wake of his administration’s surprise endorsement of another long-shot lawsuit to nullify Obamacare, they were going to unveil their latest and greatest alternative. “We’re coming up with plans,” he told reporters.
What followed was Republicans in Congress publicly pretending to follow Trump’s new orders, while privately griping that they didn’t have a plan and didn’t want to run another election on health care after being slaughtered on the issue in 2018. “We need a plan, and right now we don’t have one,” one Republican senator told Politico. “I’m not going to just throw this to the whims of our creativity.”
The “whims of their creativity” is a somewhat delicate way of saying the Republican party is structurally and endemically incapable of devising a health-care program that is remotely acceptable to the public. The reason, which has been amply demonstrated over the last decade, is that most people think “great” health insurance gives everybody access to medical care. But paying for that care requires some combination of taxes and regulations on insurance, both of which violate conservative dogma.