Make no mistake about it. This health care bill, which keeps the most insolvent aspects of Obamacare while pretending to repeal them, is now Trump’s bill. The president controls the direction of major legislation when his party runs Congress, and in this case, Trump has fully embraced whatever steaming pile Ryan and McConnell send to his desk. Much like No Child Left Behind belonged to President Bush, not John Boehner (the sponsor of the bill), the health care bill is Trumpcare, not merely Ryancare/McConnellcare. It’s time for Trump voters to hold the president accountable for violating a monumental campaign promise and for attacking those who are actually working to uphold his promise.
Now that the president has embraced the Senate bill, he owns Obamacare. Worse, it is now clear that he felt even the House bill, which barely repealed the core elements of Obamacare, was “too mean” and thus had a hand in guiding the Senate bill even further to the left. He is threatening to attack those who oppose this bill, even as he remains silent while liberal Republicans sign away his supposed priorities on the border wall and refugees in the second conservative budget bill for the upcoming fiscal year. The question is: Will conservative organizations and supposed right-leaning media remain as silent in the face of Trump’s embrace of Obamacare as they did in the face of his embrace of Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty? Do we now suddenly stand for the most left-wing policies imaginable so long as a Republican president puts his stamp of approval on them? Have we not grown at all since the Bush years?
Some defenders of the president are matter-of-factly telling us we shouldn’t have expected more from him. After all, he has always praised single-payer health care. But that is not what he ran on, and that is certainly not what his voters anticipated when they cast ballots for him in the primaries and in the general election. During the campaign, Trump submitted a blueprint that contains many of the reforms on our top 20 wish list. However, he made it clear that everything begins with full repeal of Obamacare:
But none of these positive reforms can be accomplished without Obamacare repeal. On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.
On his campaign website issue-position statements, Trump made it clear that full repeal coupled with expanded HSAs and high-risk pools are the way to deal with the chronically ill, not fully maintaining the Obamacare exchanges, regulations, and subsidies.
In addition, the GOP platform, which was adopted at Trump’s nominating convention, a platform Trump enthusiastically embraced, states the following:
Any honest agenda for improving healthcare must start with repeal of the dishonestly named Affordable Care Act of 2010 …
We agree with the four dissenting judges of the Supreme Court: “In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.” It must be removed and replaced with an approach based on genuine competition, patient choice, excellent care, wellness, and timely access to treatment. To that end, a Republican president, on the first day in office, will use legitimate waiver authority under the law to halt its advance and then, with the unanimous support of Congressional Republicans, will sign its repeal.
The GOP platform and Trump’s own health care blueprint were clear that any reform begins with full repeal of Obamacare, particularly the elements that drove out insurers and skyrocketed premiums. They made it clear that expanded HSAs and equal tax treatment, among other market-oriented provisions, were to replace Obamacare. They were very clear that from day one, the president would stop bailing out Obamacare, yet they have continued to offer the illegal cost-sharing subsidies (in addition to the entitlement subsidies), and this bill codifies them into law.
While this bill contains endless price hiking, micro-managing subsidies even for those beyond the Medicaid income level, and while it keeps almost every major Obamacare regulation, and while it adds $50 billion in bailouts and $112 billion for states and insurers – all elements Republicans promised to repeal – it contains nothing about the provisions Trump ran on: equal tax treatment, FDA reforms, purchase power across state lines, and medical malpractice reform. It appears the president, by his own admission, demanded more Obamacare regulations and subsidies be placed into the bill, but not more of the market reforms he campaign on. Yes, Mr. President, facts and details matter, particularly with something as complex, interconnected, and important as health care. Read your own plan, and you will see that you are the one moving the goal post miles to the Left.
What is so sophomoric about this entire dynamic is that congressional Republicans could send the president 100 percent repeal or zero percent repeal — and he would praise and sign either bill. Facts and details simply don’t matter to him. He wants to pass a bill that has the words “health care” in it, as if it’s a kidney stone that must get passed. And that is nothing to be proud of. He couldn’t tell you the details of the bill if his life depended upon it, yet he has the temerity to go after those who are raising valid concerns, the same concerns he raised during the campaign and at the beginning of his presidency.
While it doesn’t surprise any of us that Trump would agree to something that isn’t full (or partial) repeal and built upon market forces, he always made it clear that doing nothing was superior to the third option – Republicans owning the Obamacare collapse under his name. He said a number of times that it would be better to let the leviathan collapse on its own rather than bail it out. But “bail it out” is exactly what this bill does. It is worse than not repealing Obamacare; it is replanting the Obamacare leviathan on the GOP lawn.
Sure, we knew that Trump wasn’t a traditional conservative. But he didn’t run as a traditional liberal or Mitch McConnell establishment Republican, either. In fact, on most of the core issues, most prominently on repealing Obamacare, he ran on a conservative platform. Running against “government-run health care” was Trump’s rallying cry in the closing days of the campaign, more so than at any other point last year. It clearly made a difference in some Midwestern states.
For some conservatives to place their fingers in their ears, ignore the perfidy and betrayal, and shout down concerns by saying, “Don’t complain, at least we didn’t get Hillary,” is to condemn us all to Hillary’s policies. This is not October 2016. There is no longer a fear of a Hillary presidency. She is long gone. Obama is long gone. Now it’s time to ensure that Obama’s and Hillary’s policies don’t live on past their political exits. And that outcome is all in our own hands.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.