On Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan surprised many when he announced that “Obamacare is the law of the land. … We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.” Ryan addressed the media to explain why he had pulled the vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, thus indefinitely cementing its political longevity:
“We were a 10-year opposition party where being against things was easy to do,” he said, adding that it was difficult to get “people to agree with each other in how we do things.”
Translation: Republicans behaved like a bunch of petulant children for ten years, waging a political war against Obama despite his fervent desire to work with both sides of the isle during a fourteen-month negotiation process. Now, the opposition Republicans face from Democrats is not based on the color of their president’s skin like it was when they refused to work with Obama on health care, but rather the principles and progress Democrats rightfully seek to protect from Trumpist Republicans’ dastardly intentions.
The GOP sought to repeal Obamacare not with a bill that would do what Trump had promised on the campaign trail, namely increase coverage while decreasing costs, but instead would sharply and instantly decrease coverage, losing 24 million Americans, while increasing the cost to us in ways that Obamacare never approximated. Annual fees for some would have gone from $2500 to over $14000. Paul Ryan explained it was no longer “affordable” health care under the Trump plan. It would now merely be “accessible.” But accessible to whom? When looking at the numbers, it would clearly only be within reach for the very wealthy who could basically afford to pay almost 100 percent of their health care costs out of pocket.
The new plan didn’t create an interstate market that, as Trump promised, would lead to competition and better prices for consumers. That was a key part that was left out of the GOP’s proposed replacement bill.
Still, the powerful Koch brothers and their acolytes in the Republican Congress rallied against the Trump bill not because it would harm middle and working class Americans, but because it wouldn’t harm them enough ― they criticized Trump’s replacement plan for resembling the existing system too much. In fact, they ridicule Trumpcare as “Obamacare 2.0.” They wanted provisions protecting people with preexisting conditions and allowing children to stay under their parents’ plans until the age of 26 ― Obamacare holdovers ― out. They want no government regulation of health care. They want a completely laissez faire corporatist system of health care that would only be accessible to the highest producing Americans ― strictly measured in dollars and cents.
The Trumpist Republican Party is becoming the party of social Darwinism and unhinged corporatism. Lincoln, a thoughtful and careful president who had the wellbeing of everyone in the nation in mind, is turning in his grave at the disgraceful aberrant pit his once grand party has rapidly descended into.
Bravo and brava to the 28 or so Republicans who refused to vote for Trump’s plan. Bravo and brava to all the Democrats who held firmly against Trump and Ryan’s pressure.
Public Service, Not Self-Service
Obamacare lives on and, much more importantly, millions of Americans will continue to be covered by an affordable health care plan. As President Obama always stressed, the presidency and public office are not about whose name is on a law or a policy. They're about serving the American people:
“And I promise, if Republicans have good ideas to provide more coverage for folks... I will be all for it. I don’t care whose idea it is, I just want it to work. They can even change the name of the law to ReaganCare. Or they can call it Paul Ryan Care. I don’t care about credit, I just want it to work because I care about the American people and making sure they’ve got health insurance.”
His violation of this sacred code is part of why Trump is the least popular newly elected president ever. There's an actual record Trump has broken. So why don't we hear him bragging about it?