Sounding rather testy that the Senate didn’t give him what he wanted on Thursday, President Trump tweeted on Saturday morning that he would not only punish senators and their staffs but cut off the government funding of subsidies — estimated to be $8 billion — to hungry insurance companies. He tweeted: “After seven years of ‘talking’ Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding ObamaCare!” He then tweeted the not-so-subtle threat:
If a new HealthCare bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!
He added verbal insult to the potential financial injury:
Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead. Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!
The president has threatened to cut off those federal subsidies before, but paid them in June and July. Now, however, with the August payment in jeopardy, health insurance companies are estimating that they will be forced to raise premiums immediately by at least 20 percent. In addition, Trump wants to abrogate the agreement wrought in 2010, putting congressional staffs under ObamaCare, just like everyone else. If he holds true to his tweet, Trump will turn off both spigots unless the Senate bends to his will and votes on R&R next week before taking their August recess.
This sounds very much like the commissar of a slave labor camp who, tired of complaints, issues the threat: “Beatings will continue until morale improves.”
Democrats were quick to respond, defending territory that their president won over the protests of a large majority of Americans back in 2009 who loudly and repeatedly declared that they didn’t want government-financed healthcare. Said their chief Senate spokesman, Senator Charles Schumer of New York, on Saturday:
If the president refuses to make the cost-sharing reduction payments, every expert agrees that premiums will go up and health care will be more expensive for millions of Americans. The president ought to stop playing politics with people’s lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting presidential.
The “skinny” repeal of the odious, expensive, and unconstitutional ObamaCare program failed when three so-called Republicans — one of them getting out of his hospital bed to do so — voted against it. Leading the pack of RINOs was Senator John McCain from Arizona along with Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Their voting records reflect a near-total lack of concern over keeping their oaths of office to protect and defend the Constitution. The Freedom Index (FI), which rates votes by members of Congress on their adherence to the Constitution, for them is 63 percent, 40 percent, and 48 percent, respectively.
But they don’t share the blame alone. Masters of political statecraft and closed-door maneuvering who spelled doom to Trump's hopes include House Speaker Paul Ryan (FI: 58 percent) and Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (FI: 60 percent).
Another person to blame is Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who voted to uphold the individual mandate out of conviction that his court must not be responsible for ending the healthcare takeover. Still others are those in the Republican Party who voted more than half-a-dozen times to repeal ObamaCare when it was safe to do so, for political points, but were totally unwilling to keep that promise when Trump unexpectedly won the White House in November. They “badly underestimated,” wrote Jonathan Tobin of National Review, “how hard it would be to do something that no party has ever been able to accomplish: roll back an entitlement.” Once addicted to the new program, resistance began to fade as those newcomers were now covered with healthcare at the expense of their neighbors. Current polls are showing only 29 percent interested in repeal, with the vast majority wanting Congress to move on to other things."
According to Tobin, most of the blame can be placed on President Trump. He explains in his recent National Review article that Obama “had little respect for Congress or interest in the normal forms of friendly persuasion that involve entertaining and back-scratching. But he proved that a president could have neither the charm of Ronald Reagan nor the penchant for raw political thuggery of Lyndon Johnson and still have the ability to force dysfunctional congressional majorities to give him what he wanted.”
Translation: Obama knew exactly what he wanted. Either a full-on single-payer health care system that would put the remainder of what was left of the country's quasi-free market system under total government control, or a program that was designed to fail that would lead to the same end. In other words, Obama was an ideologue — a socialist/Marxist ideologue — and knew exactly what he wanted and wouldn’t quit until he (with the assistance of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) got it.
Trump, on the other hand, is about as far from being an ideologue as one can imagine. He’s a deal-maker, willing to give up certain chips in order to gain others. There is no “right” or “wrong” over ObamaCare, just a “right” versus “left” that currently is getting in his way. He and his staff need to reduce the impact of ObamaCare in order to generate enough savings to offset the massive deficits in his proposed budget. That is his target, and getting something done over healthcare was merely a steppingstone to it.
Lost in all the shuffle is a surprising piece of proposed legislation that has generated almost no attention: a bill that would have, in two simple sentences, utterly and completely repealed ObamaCare once and for all. No footnotes, no addendas, no “revisions” or “replacements" — just straight repeal. From Representative Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) came this back in March:
This Act may be cited as the “ObamaCare Repeal Act.”
Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.
Neat and tidy. Simple. Effective. And all but totally ignored by Republicans more enamored with their popularity going into the next election than with doing the right thing. Brooks couldn’t even generate enough support for his bill to get it out of committee. He touched on the real problem about repealing ObamaCare: Neither the people nor their representatives want to touch it. “If the American people want to repeal ObamaCare," said Brooks, "this is their last, best chance during the 115th Congress. Those Congressmen who are sincere about repealing ObamaCare may prove it by signing the discharge petition.”
The silence following his plea was deafening.