President Donald Trump’s two-step gutting of the Affordable Care Act, ending cost-sharing for insurance companies, and allowing them to cover fewer medical conditions should be a political nightmare for Republicans.
That’s because the White House has miscalculated, apparently falling for the fantasy that it can sabotage Obamacare and then successfully pin the political blame for lost coverage on President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Trump and some other Republicans have developed “Obamacare is imploding” as a talking point, trying to persuade Americans that the Affordable Care Act is collapsing under its own weight.
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This is nonsense, as the Trump administration is fully aware. It’s also hopeless as a political strategy, because repeated failed Republican efforts to pass an alternative health care plan have left the party powerless to credibly claim that it’s fixing a broken system.
Only Democrats could bail Republicans out of this political fix, and they may just be doing it with their growing push to back a single-payer health care system. If single-payer Democrats succeed in getting their party to commit itself to a national system in which all medical care is paid for by the government, think of the way it would change the terms of the political debate.
Today, Democrats are saying that Trump and the Republicans are disrupting the health-insurance market, throwing people off the insurance rolls, hitting some middle class families with hefty cost increases, diluting protections for people with preexisting conditions and adding almost $200 billion to the federal deficit.
Tomorrow, Republicans would be able to counter with this: The single-payer Democrats want to take away the employer-provided health insurance of 170 million Americans, many of whom are satisfied with their plans, then turn everything over to the federal government and pay for it with a huge tax increase.
Both arguments are largely correct, which is why the Democratic left, increasingly embracing the single-payer scheme introduced in Congress by Sen. Bernie Sanders, is giving the Republicans a gift. It neutralizes an issue where the Democrats currently enjoy a big and growing advantage.
“We Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House,” Rep. Charlie Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican who’s retiring, said in a National Public radio interview late last week. “If there are problems we will likely own them.”
(Image: Allison Bell/TA)