Gary Horton: What’s next after health care


Before taking office, Donald Trump repeatedly railed against the Affordable Care Act, saying on “Day One” he would repeal the act and replace it with “something great,” promising to “cover everybody.” Over and again, this was the campaigning and this was the promise. Perhaps second only to a xenophobic shutting out of Mexicans and Muslims, this was the draw that drew suffering whites to Trump’s camp.

Out of shape, overweight, southern and rust belt voters need health care and they need it now and for life. Many of Trump’s voters live in states whose governors shunned the ACA, intentionally exerting pressure on both the ACA itself and sadly, their own constituents. That’s offensively putting politics before people and rightfully, with the plan under attack by the leaders who could have funded it with Federal dollars, rust state and southern voters saw dysfunction and voted for the promise of “something better for everyone.” Indeed, that was Trump’s over and again promise.

But, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated,” said now President Trump. So much to learn in so little time, especially with so much time relegated to tweeting nonsense and insulting foreign leaders!

Sixty-four days Trump “worked hard” on the new “repeal and replace” legislation. For 64 whole days Trump worked on his “great” “coverage for everyone.” On day 64, this casserole of tax breaks for the rich, the new American Health Care Act, got aired out and blown out. Some Republican congressmen feared it too rough on their constituents, other from the Freedom Caucus thought it wasn’t nearly sufficiently mean spirited.

In the end, the Congressional Budget Office estimated a total loss of coverage for approximately 20 – 24 million people. This would be akin to turning back health care coverage 25 years and sending us permanently into the Stone Age among industrialized countries.

Worse, were the terms of the proposed AHCA. This permanently morphing “act” raised deductibles, lowered coverage, allowed exclusions, failed to reform Medicare drug purchases – but most importantly, potentially stripped coverage for pre-existing conditions and inclusion of kids out of school until 26 years of age – Obamacare benefits that have proven extremely popular and necessary. The public backlash would be foreseeable and brutal.

Trump was willing to sign off on this mish-mash, but even with all the slicing and dicing, the Republicans couldn’t muster up a simple majority in the House they own decisively – so bad was that bill.

“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”

Now comes the traitorous part, the truly mean part: After this debacle, after all the blame he spread around, Trump explains, “The best thing we can do politically is let Obamacare explode.” With that explosion, of course, would be the explosion of pain and suffering of millions of Americans who will certainly face more stress, more illness, more expense, as Trump works to inhibit and hurt Obamacare, rather than reform it and help it work efficiently.

This is traitorous behavior, mean spirited, and self-serving at its worst. Playing political football with tens of millions of lives is radically offensive.

A real president would have never rushed such a bill in the first place. But, having done so and faced defeat, a real president would offer olive branches all around and invite all parties to work together to solve the problems we know exist with Obamacare.

Last week I met with a man who re-encouraged me about the ability of government to function. Cameron Smyth took a trip to the infamous Starbucks at Granary Square and shared an hour with us. One thing of note: Cameron stressed “policy before politics.” Public office, he stressed, should be about crafting good public policy and action and not about political turf wars. What a breath of fresh air by comparison to the news out of Washington.

Meanwhile, back at the ever-murkier Swamp, complete with daughter and son-in-law as Imperial Swamp Prince and Princess, the President gave up on health care and promised to “move on to something great.” Next up: Tax reform. We’ll see how that goes. If his idea of health care reform was just tax giveaways in disguise is an indication, actual tax “reform” will be a doozy of a dagger to Middle America.

“Nobody knew tax reform could be so complicated,” we may well hear. Who knew the party promising to be the party of the little guy could be so brutally callous towards them.

Nobel Winner Paul Krugman summed things up nicely:

“Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.”

That’s what the AHCA was. That’s what “letting Obamacare explode” is. That’s what stripping environmental rules away from polluters is. And that’s what “tax reform” will almost certainly be.

Trump’s already historic low 39% approval rating may not be his floor – or even close. Sooner or later, his suffering white voters will feel like jaded players on some reality show from which they’ve just been “fired” by President Shuckster. More informed folks have already figured this out. When the suffering ones finally do, watch out for fireworks.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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