If Republicans’ example of reforming health insurance is any indication of how they plan to run this country the next few years, we’re all in trouble. For several years during the much-hated Obama administration, Republican lawmakers whipped constituents back home into frenzied delight with their vows to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something more comprehensive and market-driven.
Yet from what we’ve seen the past few months, Republicans are far better at putting on a show for their base than crafting viable policy. Embracing the Ayn Rand brand of conservatism — nothing more than social Darwinism that allows the vulnerable to perish as the price for others to flourish — the Republican plan proposes gutting Medicaid as a safety net for poor and sick people and removing insurance restraints that keep premiums from skyrocketing for regular folks with preexisting conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
This hardly fits what President Trump promised — health care for all. Scrapping Medicaid and turning it over to the states is sure no solution, given what we’ve seen from our state lawmakers. Their priority the past several months focused on the mythical problem of keeping rampaging trangenders out of public restrooms rather than preventing more deaths of innocent children in dysfunctional, underfunded Child Protective Services.
Trump offers wildly mixed signals for a “non-politician.” On Tuesday after botched Senate efforts, he said he would let Obamacare fail under its own weight and that Republicans would not “own” the consequences — an astonishingly deceptive statement since, through all machinations, Republicans have rigorously excluded Democrats. It’s pretty hard to blame Democrats when Republican infighting is the problem.
By Wednesday Trump had flip-flopped again and was threatening Republican senators whose constituents and governors back home express concern over what Republicans hammered out behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. One Republican senator who represents many poor whites who bought into Trump’s vow to safeguard them said what’s being discussed is not in the interest of her constituents — and she “did not come to Washington to hurt people.”
So much for all that silly talk about “making the deal.” Making a deal from the perspective of bold leadership means forcing all parties to the table — centrist Republicans, conservative Republicans and, yes, even Democrats — and then painstakingly forging consensus. That’s clearly not happening. It also requires a familiarity with policy details. Trump has yet to demonstrate any such familiarity or even the mere willingness to learn.
Those who have health insurance and embrace social Darwinism may well sniff that government has no business being involved in health care. But when Republicans and Democrats passed Medicaid and Medicare in 1965, when they passed the Emergency Medical Treatment & Active Labor Act under President Reagan in 1986 and when some continue passing laws such as requirements that women contemplating abortions undergo sonograms first, government has clearly become involved in health care and, yes, owns much of the consequence.