Donald Trump And Republicans Have Already Lost On Healthcare
The GOP’s first attempt at an ACA repeal and replace appears dead on arrival
Republicans in D.C. are officially the dogs who caught the car.
For years they’ve symbolically voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — with no real plan for what that would mean because they knew President Obama was never going to sign on to repealing his landmark legislation. That’s the chase.
In November, they won control of the House, Senate, and the White House. The bumper was in sight. Just a matter of waiting for Inauguration Day and they’d finally get that car they’d been chasing for six years.
So they clamped on, hopped in the driver’s seat, wagged their collective tails in celebration…and immediately peed all over the seat and started stress-eating the steering wheel.
Eventually they squatted and pooped out what’s less-than-affectionately being called TrumpCare (officially the American Health Care Act), though it’s likely more accurate to call it RyanCare. Either way, it has all the popularity of cleaning up after your dog with a thin napkin. In the rain. At about 4:30 in the morning.
It’s not popular, is what I’m saying. In fact, according to Public Policy Polling:
PPP’s newest national poll finds that there is very little support for the American Health Care Act. Only 24% of voters support it, to 49% who are opposed. Even among Republican voters only 37% are in favor of the proposal to 22% who are against it, and 41% who aren’t sure one way or another. Democrats (15/71) and independents (22/49) are more unified in their opposition to the bill than Republicans are in favor of it.
The Affordable Care Act continues to post some of the best numbers it’s ever seen, with 47% of voters in favor of it to 39% who are opposed. When voters are asked whether they’d have rather have the Affordable Care Act or the American Health Care Act in place, the Affordable Care Act wins by 20 points at 49/29. Just 32% of voters think the best path forward with the Affordable Care Act is to repeal it and start over, while 63% think it would be better to keep what works in it and fix what doesn’t.
Obamacare now enjoys a plurality approval rating and easily outpaces the Republican alternative. Even Republicans hate this bill. However, that hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from going so far as to threaten Republican House members with losing their seats if they don’t vote for the bill.
Despite what Trump says or does, that might already be the case.
Obamacare is highly unpopular among Republicans (though gaining in popularity), but that largely comes from pure ignorance of the bill and, for some, not even recognizing that the ACA and Obamacare are the same thing. They may not respond well to the name, but they love what it entails.
While it’s true that TrumpCare would keep the most popular portions like requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parent’s health insurance until they’re 26, essentially killing access to Medicaid and drastically reducing federal subsidies for the low-and middle-class are key pieces to the Republican legislation.
Those provisions would hurt Trump supporters the most, which is why the AARP has come out against the bill. The AARP is one of the largest special interest groups in the country and hold a lot of clout with voters. Losing their backing would be devastating to re-election campaigns in 2018.
For vastly different reasons, the Koch Brothers — major Republicans donators — also hate this bill. They, like the Freedom Caucus, don’t believe the bill goes far enough in removing government influence and repealing Obamacare.
This leaves Republicans with their backs firmly in a corner with a lose-lose decision to make while taking several groups into account.
First, does it matter to them if Trump is on their side or not? Well, given his popularity at a dismal 37 percent, Republicans might be wise to distance themselves from Trump anyway. His support won’t mean much if a majority of the country is against him next November.
Secondly, how much do they rely on endorsements from groups like the AARP and money from donators like the Koch Brothers? Odds are the support of the AARP and the money is a bigger help to them in 2018 than anything Trump can provide.
Lastly, and most complicated, are the voters.
Republicans have promised for six years to repeal Obamacare. The phrase “repeal and replace” was uttered perhaps more than “cash me ousside” and with perhaps less forethought. However, if this is the “replace” option, can they afford to go through with it?
If they repeal Obamacare only to watch as collectively millions of their constituents lose health insurance, they won’t have the Democrats to blame. Even voters not particularly focused on politics know the Republicans are running the show at the moment and will blame them if their health insurance goes away.
If they vote against this bill and kill it, it’s unlikely they would be able to come together on something brand new that would garner enough support to pass through both chambers of congress before the midterm elections. If Obamacare is still in place come 2018, voters will also hold them accountable for breaking a key campaign promise.
They’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
Republicans have no one to blame but themselves. They have been lambasting Obamacare for six years, only to watch it grow in popularity. Constituents have turned out in droves to fight for the preservation of the bill, only to be met with accusations they’re paid protestors and immediately dismissed. Even diehard conservatives will not forget such a slight.
The only option Republicans had was to present the country with a bill that was truly better than Obamacare. If it meant even one person lost coverage, it wasn’t going to work. If premiums went up one dollar, it was doomed. What they came up with was a bill that would kick 24 million off insurance and raise premiums as much as $13,000 for some — all the while giving billions in tax breaks to the top two percent.
To put it simply, the Republicans have made nearly every mistake with this bill they possibly could. For some, it will mean an end to their political careers. For Republicans in general, it will mean a short-lived stay in the driver’s seat.