Who's to blame for the defeat of the GOP health care plan?
Why, Obama, of course!
Obviously, the old cliche holds true. Who created a plan that insured tens of millions of Americans and gave them much more economic security? Who shepherded that plan through Congress? Who brought in stakeholders and got their buy-in? Who worked tirelessly to get Republican input, even though they ended up refusing to support a bill based on a Republican success story in Massachusetts? Who showed political savvy by making it a comprehensive, many-faceted effort that would difficult to undo? Who endured the pushback, both from a misinformed public and a Republican party that thought they could deny him a legacy? Who worked tirelessly to address problems that sprang up, from balky websites to Supreme Court challenges, with almost no support from a dysfunctional Congress? Who was, I hope, today sitting somewhere on a warm beach with a cold drink and a big grin on his face?
I think all Americans should take a moment this evening to silently say:
Barack Obama wanted to do something no U.S. President had done: provide a universal health care system for a country that badly needed it. His ultimate success or failure is yet to be determined. But he got us much, much closer. We have a record low number of uninsured Americans in this country, according to Gallup. We have seen significant efforts to make health care more rational and efficient, even as costs continue to be too high. The ACA needs fixing, there is no doubt. The Republican plan was clearly not the correct fix. It would have made things much, much worse.
Whatever you think of Obama, it's clear that he accomplished all the things Trump has failed to do. He got a complex, difficult bill through Congress. He sold it to the public, at least enough to get 8 years of implementation... now it will be more than 8 years, apparently. He got his party unified in support of it, even at great political cost. He showed strength, toughness, and smarts. Have we seen that from the White House lately?
Trump is now saying he will let the current law fail and blame the Democrats. Well, besides the great compassion that shows for the American people, there are a couple questions that plan raises.
One--what if it doesn't fail? What if the states and the health care industry, realizing how royally screwed we all might be if incompetents and ideologues get their way, find a path to making the ACA work better, without the federal government's intervention? That actually would be a big win for conservative principles, although the conservatives might not realize it.
Secondly, what if it fails? We're in a situation now where Trumpcare is dead, and Obamacare could very possibly die from neglect and malpractice, with a Trump-led campaign of malign neglect from HHS. If this happens, many Americans will suffer, and their suffering will prolonged by a President who clearly doesn't understand the issues and doesn't really care to. Will the American people really blame Democrats, who passed health care reform and got it up and running? Or will they blame the party that can't shoot straight?
When Trump was bumbling through his presidential campaign, a lot of progressives said we were seeing the end of the Republican party. They said that Trump's defeat would split the GOP into two parts, the more traditional wing and the crazy Trump wing. It seems that even in victory, that split is happening, and the first casualty is governing. Trump's "art of the fail" has only clarified the divide among the Republicans. It's a little scary to contemplate where they'll go from here. It's even more scary to realize we all have to go with them.
In any case, what Republican senators once called "Obama's Waterloo" is still standing. It's too early to say that the attempt to repeal and replace the ACA was Trump's Waterloo, but one thing is for sure: Trump tried to take on Obama's legacy, and he got his ass thoroughly kicked.