The other day, I wrote here that whatever the courts decide, Trump's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act was now the official Republican Party policy. Unless the majority of Republicans in Congress speak out publicly against the plan to repeal the ACA, then the GOP supports it.
Little did I expect that Trump would make it worse for the Republican Party.
On Tuesday, after no doubt being pressured by utterly-frantic Republicans, Trump turned tail and backed off his "Repeal the ACA." However, that action was only a for now, and he said very explicitly that he wants to bring it up again after 2020 if he and the GOP wins.
So, this is an even bigger election issue than before. This remains the GOP plan, until their party leaders and elected officially discredit it publicly. When people go to the voting booth in November next year, this is their healthcare proposal for the 2020 election. Be prepared to see repeated ads from Democratic candidates for the House, Senate and White House pointing out that Trump has said that repealing the ACA will be on the table after the election -- with videos of him saying it -- and every Republican candidate for national office will have to either support their party leader (who will be running on the ballot himself for re-election) or cut ties with him on the issue. As we've seen for the past two years, the latter seems unlikely since it hasn't yet happened.
And even if a Republican speaks out against Trump, they still have a problem. That's because they still have to deal with the head of the ticket on the record calling for the repeal of the ACA. And also because so many terrified Republican candidates insisted before the 2016 mid-term elections that they were for actually, really, truly, no honestly for protecting pre-existing conditions from the ACA, despite never having taken that position before, here the party is again backtracking and on record wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It's the whole, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me" Gambit.
Here's how stupid it was for Trump to temporarily withdraw his plan until after the election. The one hope the Republican Party had on this issue was that it was something the administration was going to challenge in court. ONLY if the courts agreed and threw out the ACA would Republicans be stuck with nothing and risk enraging the public -- which had voted for a Democratic landslide in the House in 2016 with healthcare being the #1 issue. But if the courts upheld the Affordable Care Act, which is a reasonable possibility, then Republicans could have been spared the hell of not having a health care plan to replace what their party destroyed. They'd still be tied to the action, but at least it would have been in the past and nothing they'd have had to vote on or take a public position on.
But now?? Now it will not only be an election issue in 2020...it may possibly be THE election issue.
Here's how bad it is for Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a statement yesterday saying that there is now "no daylight" between him and Trump on healthcare. So, any Republican hoping for a reprieve and wishing to run without being tied to the GOP plan to repeal the ACA...that is not just out the window (since it was long gone), but the window is slammed shut.
By the way, and all this begs the question of "Why???" Why delay trying to repeal the ACA and announce your better, beautiful health care? Okay, we know "why" Republicans really truly aren't doing any of that, but how on earthy are they going to explain to the public "why" the delay. They've had two years under Trump to figure out a new, better, beautiful health care.program. They've had NINE years to do so since the party has been yammering about it. So, why wait another two years?!! On the surface they can say, "It's because we don't control the House, so it wouldn't pass" (although until only a few months ago they did control the House -- and Senate and White House). But if you've got a great, new, beautiful better plan, usually you'd put it out for the country to see before the 2020 election to let the country be impressed by it and vote out all those awful politicians who won't support it. and vote in all those grand politicians who will help bring it to fruition. So...why wait another two years to present it??!!
And we haven't even gotten to the trouble Republicans are in if Trump goes ahead and closes the border with Mexico -- our biggest trading partner -- and risks pummeling the U.S. economy, most especially the auto industry that relies of parts and factories in Mexico.
And for all this, Republicans only have themselves to blame. Because as has been the case for a long time, this is not about Trump. We know who he is. This is about the elected officials of the Republican Party who have enabled and supported Trump, and brought this about. And they only have themselves to blame.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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