Like a dark version of Lambchop written by Augusto Pinochet‘s former health minister, the Republican Party’s efforts to repeal-and-replace Obamacare are a never-ending loop of mendacity and post-political camp. They go on and on, always with the same result.
But still, health care remains the number one issue facing Americans. No one cares about Russia.
So, is there an opening for the GOP to do something bold, big, needed, necessary, and, perhaps even beautiful vis-à-vis health care?
Not really. Just take a look at what their party’s leader thinks happens in the real world:
I can’t get over this pic.twitter.com/8tFnWL6qjf
— Updog Sinclair (@emmaroller) July 20, 2017
That’s right. Speaking to the New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman, President Trump said something mostly incomprehensible, which is expected, but also revealed the depth of his developmental delays. So, once more, with some kind of enfeebled feeling, here’s what the president thinks is true:
“[When] you’re 21 years old [sic], you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance.”
Wrong. Average monthly premiums for health insurance in the individual marketplace are in the triple digits in every single state in the union. Even those lucky enough to have employer-based health insurance pay premiums exponentially more than $12-per year.
But maybe this inability to understand very basic facts about American health care post-Obamacare is congenital to the Republican Party. Let’s take a look at their antic-like efforts so far:
First the GOP-controlled House flexed very large muscles by voting to repeal Obamacare over 50 times while Obama was still in office. It was meaningless and went absolutely nowhere, but certain people think they’re public enemy number one for wearing certain t-shirts. Why not.
Then came crunch time: Barack Obama was gone after an historically awful tenure. Donald J. Trump was recently inaugurated as the 45th American president. Paul Ryan promised Palpatinesque dominance by declaring: “Welcome to the dawn of a new, unified Republican government.”
But of course, as is often the case with political dramas, things immediately went sideways.
In early March, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was unveiled. And even though Ryan held an entire PowerPoint presentation to explain the bill, opposition within the GOP’s own ranks was furious. In late March, Ryan was forced to cancel the vote at President Trump’s request.
Oh, and the public hated the bill.
Finally, in early May, on a mostly party-line vote, the House passed a significantly tweaked version of the AHCA. All Democrats voted in opposition. But Paul Ryan could sleep easily. He had been a good boy and got a thing done with minimal defections from his conference. Maybe Trump patted him on the head somewhere near the West Wing. Cases of Bud Light were brought into the House; the light beer was enjoyed by the men.
Again, the public hated the bill; and this hatred is still extant.
Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Their bill has been killed and revived so many times that a repetitive children’s song is the only semi-accurate way to describe what’s going on. (Zombie allusions are entirely off-base because zombies stay dead once they’ve been de-brained.) The moderates balk and Mitch McConnell scrambles to shelve the legislation. The libertarian-tinged members sound off and it’s back to the drawing board. Et cetera.
Even today, the Senate GOP is engaged in some last-ditch struggling to save their version of repeal-and-replace. Spoiler: they won’t.
And for what? For the last time, cue the hatred: Only 12 percent of Americans support their efforts. Even Obamacare, as confusing, costly, ineffective and draconian as it is, is enjoying some time in the sun in response to what the Republican Party is offering.
It’s almost as if the GOP’s opposition to Obamacare–an idea crafted by the Heritage Foundation (the premier conservative think tank) and initially put into practice by a Republican governor (Mitt Romney)–has always simply been an ornamental show of force against Barack Obama himself.
Republicans don’t have any real ideas to replace Obamacare, because it was their idea to begin with–and they cannot seem to metabolize this fact. Their inability to process this information and their general desire to help moneyed health care interests at the expense of the needy has created a situation in which they can absolutely never appeal to the needs or concerns of Americans when it comes to health care. But now they’re stuck with a president who clearly doesn’t understand any of this but who also believes health insurance costs the same as it did when elevators were invented.
Somebody started singing the GOP tune of repeal-and-replace, not knowing it was, and now it lasts forever and forever just because.
[image via screengrab]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.