Make no mistake about it, the Republican Party’s efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act otherwise known as Obamacare is at its core all about revenge against President Obama and the Democratic Party. Though they and others will cite the tax burden on the rich, issues of “socialized medicine”, entitlements, forcing people to buy what they don’t need, etc., everything boils down to revenge against the President and Democrats in Congress for successfully passing something a Republican first tried to do over a hundred years ago, provide healthcare for the American People.
Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Wing of the GOP in 1912 made the first serious proposal for Universal Healthcare. They were opposed by many to include the American Medical Association citing that it was “socialized medicine” (AMA’s views have changed in the century that followed). Harry Truman attempted it during his presidency but couldn’t get anything started with the “do nothing Republican Congress.” Richard Nixon even had a proposal for a version of expanding healthcare on top of what Medicare and Medicaid provided that’s considered more liberal than ACA. Bill Clinton attempted it early in his presidency through his wife Hillary. Republicans at that time countered with a plan proposed by Bob Dole and the Heritage Foundation that was later adopted in the State of Massachusetts under Republican Governor Mitt Romney. That plan was the basis of the plan presented and passed in Congress and signed into law by Barack Obama.
So why do I say this is revenge? During the first two years of the Clinton Administration he passed a tax increase on wealthy Americans and Corporations that helped erased the deficits created by Reagan and Bush and actually started to pay down the national debt. Well not a single Republican voted for that tax increase because then House minority leader, later to become Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich started a process where Republicans couldn’t support anything major presented by Democrats. Gingrich initiated all out partisan warfare in Congress that has devolved into what we have today. Gingrich held his caucus together in the House to in lockstep block anything from Clinton or Democrats in the House. Many of those Congressmen at the time moved to the Senate and began the same process. Essentially it didn’t matter what the bill was about, if it came from Democrats or help that party, it had to be stopped even if it benefitted the American people.
Despite the above, Obama succeeded where everyone failed. He got past the Gingrich partisan war and was able to get ACA passed. Even before the bill was passed, on Obama’s inauguration day; Gingrich, Boehner, McConnell and others met and decided they would block any legislation from the Obama administration regardless what it was to make him a one term president. They failed, ACA passed and Obama won his second term.
In the seven years since ACA became law, it has improved the lives for over 40 million Americans. Medicaid has been expanded, the rate of premium increases has slowed, with subsidies many can now afford Healthcare that provides for them when the need arises, no more lifetime caps, no more exclusions for pre-existing conditions, Insurance Companies are actually raking in more money and since Healthcare is one-sixth of our economy, it actually has created more jobs and helped expand our economy. A plan that was originally Republican, though still full of problems, has helped America, it’s moved us forward. The law is actually more conservative than liberal because it keeps insurance in the private market and excludes a public option. This bill has done more to help Republicans in solidly Red States than anywhere else and they’re starting to appreciate it. But this bill was Obama’s, passed by the Democrats and must be repealed no matter the cost to Americans to include Republicans.
Were this an exercise to follow through with Trump’s campaign promise to make healthcare more available to more Americans for less money, the GOP could easily work with Democrats to legislate fixes to the ACA. However, this is about revenge against Obama and the Democrats for passing a Republican idea and getting credit for it.
This revenge comes from GOP leadership. I really don’t think Trump totally grasps the situation here (can’t with his tiny hands). Trump isn’t into analyzing political or social concepts. He’s all about bumper-stickers, hats, talking-points and applause lines, not substance. He has no idea what ACA is truly about, or even what it does. Further, Trump has no idea what the current Republican bill that carries his name does. Trump is only play-acting as President to get applause lines and feed into his narcissism. Sad when you think about it.
So out of revenge the Republicans still try to pull one over on the American people and kill a bill that has saved the lives of many of their constituents. Further, they can’t replace ACA with anything that doesn’t look like it already because ACA is Republican, but passed by Democrats. Most Republican lawmakers have gone on record supporting most of the individual protections provided by ACA (again because they work and are at their core Republican). So it must die regardless the cost to the American people and the GOP for that matter.
If this was a matter of presenting healthcare legislation that helped their base, the American people and the GOP prospects for 2018 they would fix ACA not repeal it. So as I said above, this is Revenge plain and simple and the American People will suffer for it.