For weeks, months, even years, we have been hearing about the nightmare that is Obamacare (which is, by the way, the same thing as the Affordable Care Act, just in case you hadn’t heard). It has been especially intense in the lead up to the epic failure of governance that was the Republican effort to secure its repeal by passing the tax break and death cult propaganda package called the “American Health Care Act.”
#45 made increasingly grim and desperate appeals in the weeks prior using the cutting edge outreach technique called “email spam.” One email on March 8th 2017 informed its recipients:
Things are only getting worse. This past year, nearly 20 million American citizens opted not to get healthcare insurance, with 6.5 million paying the penalty and millions more asking for a hardship exemption from the penalty.
The American people want change and President Donald J. Trump promised to repeal and replace this disaster.
A disaster! Then, on March 13th, recipients were asked to tell the tale of their grueling endurance of this ongoing catastrophe:
Millions of hard-working Americans have been impaired by soaring costs, cancelled plans, and overbearing mandates. As one of those innocent Americans, President Trump wants to hear your story about how this disastrous law has affected you and your family.
This came after a meeting with “victims of Obamacare.”
Local Trump stand-ins and lackeys like NY CD 1 Representative Lyin’ Lee Zeldin echoed this hysteria. Consider this sample of his Facebook emissions:
Obamacare is in a death spiral. We need affordability, better access and more choices; all while ensuring a smooth transition to a better reality. Options are pouring out from the GOP to help with this desperately needed rescue mission for health care in America.
A death spiral!
Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight. It has created higher premiums, higher deductibles, and cancelled policies. For these reasons and many others, health care in America is quite literally on the verge of collapse. When an individual has to pay $8,000 for their deductible, they feel like they don’t even have health coverage at all. If you cannot afford your insurance policy, then you do not have access to it.
Collapse! The literal verge of collapse, even! This all sounds pretty grim, no?
After completely failing to pass the one thing the Republican Party has made its united mission for 7 years despite full control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency, the story seemed to change from one of alarm to grim satisfaction. According to the Washington Post,
“As you know, I’ve been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal. And they will come to us; we won’t have to come to them,” [Trump] said. “After Obamacare explodes.”
“The beauty,” Trump continued, “is that they own Obamacare. So when it explodes, they come to us, and we make one beautiful deal for the people.”
Lyin’ Lee once again followed his leader like a whipped dog. His only reaction to his party’s abject display of incoherence and impotence was to post, “And now Obamacare repeals itself.” Perhaps even more telling than anything is false wonksiah Paul Ryan’s crestfallen admission that “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.” He clearly doesn’t see the ACA as facing imminent self-destruction and is strangely unconcerned with the effects of living with it long term. More distressing seems to be the humiliation this defeat has inflicted on him.
This calm, snide, petty reaction prompts some serious questions. I thought the ACA was disaster with numerous victims, collapsing, death spiraling, forcing hard working people into destitution, all sorts of improbably awful things. The situation seemed quite dire, with many peoples’ health and livelihood on the line. What is their response now? To give up, blame the opposition (which they never made any effort to engage), and wait for the ACA to collapse, presumably causing widespread harm.
Did they ever care? Did they ever really believe the ACA was so bad? It seems impossible that this could be the case because if so, Trump wouldn’t be having a minor resigned temper tantrum and Lyin’ Lee wouldn’t be following suit. One or both of them, or the whole Republican party, would be going back to the drawing board to figure out some alternative, see why it failed, what could be better, because if the ACA is that bad, how can they justify this childish behavior? How can they give up and let their constituents and supporters keep suffering under the unrelieved burden of Obamacare? Either they don’t care or they don’t believe it is that bad at all.
Now if you, the reader, think the ACA is so bad, how can you tolerate this response? Or did you ever really believe it was that bad? Is this just a game to you…?
Update (03/30/17): It seems there is a new development in the story: they’re actually going to keep trying. Points for actual persistence, perhaps? I’m not sure what is behind this about-face from the initial spiteful resignation. Did sour grapes Republicans start getting calls from their conservative constituents demanding that they fight on? Zeldin’s reaction in particular is curious:
Mr. Zeldin, who had been a firm supporter of the much-maligned bill, said that the bill was hamstrung by the “Freedom Caucus” faction of the Republican Party who would not support it, largely because they thought it did not go far enough in repealing the Affordable Care Act adopted by Democrats and President Barack Obama.
“When one party takes control of the House, Senate and the White House, there’s an important need for its members to make the transition from being an opposition party to a governing party,” Mr. Zeldin said in an interview this week. “For members that come from some of the reddest districts in the county, they have an ability to do whatever their local conservative radio show tells them to do. But when you’re governing and your party is in control, you have to be willing to compromise.”
It’s not surprising that he’s aligning himself with 45 against the Freedom Caucus. It’s more surprising when he doesn’t follow the leader. But it’s interesting that he echos some of the conventional wisdom of liberal postmortems of the AHCA: that the GOP was incredibly effective as opposition but they have no ability to govern. One wonders now what compromises he’s willing to make, and more importantly, what compromises his conservative base in CD1 is willing to put up with.
Oh, and pretty words aside, they still don’t have a plan.
Further update: Honestly, at this point, who knows how long they’ll keep this gong show running.