By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Last Friday, March 24, 2017 is a date that Donald Trump and his gaggle of billionaire fat cats should long remember. It’s the date that Trump failed to deliver his first major deal to his ardent supporters.
After all, the cornerstone of Trump’s unlikely ascendance and subsequent election to the White House rested heavily on two pillar promises of his campaign. First his pledge to build a wall to prevent undocumented Mexicans from crossing the border and entering the country. And second, his mantra-like promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or as Trump would call it, dripping with disdain, Obamacare.
In typical Trump fashion, he had tried to bully his way to get the outcome that he wanted. Mr. Trump had issued an ultimatum last Thursday to recalcitrant Republicans to fall in line behind a broad health insurance overhaul or see their opportunity to repeal the Affordable Care Act vanish. He then went as far as demanding a vote on a bill that appeared to lack a majority to pass.
However, the initial House vote, called Thursday to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s signing, had to be postponed. Consequently, Mr. Trump was then left with the reality of a humiliating loss on the first significant legislative push of his presidency.
The president had tried to broker a deal with members of the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus. He agreed to the conservatives’ demands to strip federal health insurance requirements for basic benefits such as maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits from the bill. But, in the end, that was not enough to placate the intransigent, small-minded faction, and the vote scheduled for Thursday was placed on hold.
In the wake of this major political setback, Mr. Trump’s reaction was quite telling and may be a harbinger of what his administration has in mind with regards to the ACA. The president said: “I’ve been saying for the last year and half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is to let Obamacare explode … It’s now exploding.”
But the Congressional Budget Office and independent researchers have concluded that the Affordable Care Act as currently constituted will be stable for years to come. This assumes that the Trump administration does not use its substantial administrative authority to undermine the health care law.
Some might say that the thought of Republicans deliberately sabotaging the health care coverage for millions of Americans is beyond the pale and is too ridiculous to consider as a conspiracy theory.
But, in today’s political climate, nothing is out of bounds, not to mention the fact that the bill that failed would have denied 24 million Americans health care access. It behooves us to remember that Donald Trump and his Republican cohorts will go to any lengths to win, to impose their right-wing agenda.