This is what happens when you’ve hitched your political wagon to a semi-trailer that has “Government Sucks” written on the side in patriotic colors. And when the driver of that semi has no political skill, cogent philosophy or enough sense to know that he’s being led by the nose by unrelenting, uncompromising, unapologetic conservative ideologues while his wingman looks like the deer in the headlights. Then you are heading for a monumental crash.
And the GOP did. Big time.
The Seven Year Obamacare Itch could not be scratched with a made-in-China plastic backscratcher or any of the GOP’s well-manicured fingernails. It was stunning and messy and terrible for the country, except for the fact that millions will keep their health insurance. And it’s only the beginning.
This was supposed to be the easy first step towards a better, Republican-led future but it exposed the House of Representatives as a hotbed of contradictions and competing constituencies. You know, the way the framers envisioned government when they created it. They even built in the idea that democratic ideas need to take time, to marinate in the bowl of public consumption, to gain a consensus, to be debated by the populace over the course of months to make sure that the terrible parts are squeezed out. None of that happened with the health care bill. President Know-Nothing thought this would be quick, and since he has no attention span to speak of, he approved of the GOP’s leadership idea that the bill needed to be introduced one week and voted on in the next.
But the worst was the spectacle of Trump and Ryan throwing publicly approved healthcare provisions overboard with no thought about how a final bill with no protections for those with preexisting conditions, or guaranteed maternity care or no-cost preventive care would play in, well, Peoria and the areas where Trump won the election. There simply was no health or care in the bill. No wonder only 17% of respondents in the latest poll approved of it.
The other issue with the health care bill, though, is more far-reaching. The money saved in this bill was supposed to fund the giant tax-cut-for-the-wealthy that the GOP was going to tackle next. Now there’s no cash in the till, which means that there will need to be more spending cuts. The ultra-conservatives didn’t like government spending for health care, so they sure as heck aren’t going to vote for a tax cut or a trillion dollar infrastructure bill that might explode the deficit and fund Planned Parenthood. The ultras have the power now and they are immune to Trump’s lame threats and simpering appeals for American greatness.
And, of course, there’s the issue of the Republicans actually funding and running a United States that has an Affordable Care Act. If they were smart, they would regroup and find an alternative that would shore up the insurance markets or make sure that elderly people don’t have to pay more for less care or to make insurance portable so that no American would have to worry about losing their insurance simply because they lost their job or move to take care of a family member. You remember family? The Republicans are supposed to be the family party.
Doing any of this would require Democratic acquiescence, which is doable. The question is whether the GOP will actually ask.
Of course, this won’t happen because the president has already said that the healthcare will “explode” and the insurance markets will tank because…he will make sure that this happens. Then he thinks he’s going to blame the Democrats. The GOP owns health care now, and if the law fails it will be because of their actions.
Do keep in mind that it’s still only March. But the madness will last far longer.