When You Have All the Power and Do Nothing


Today I intended to write the final part of the “It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington DC” series, but I could not contain my outrage over the way that the President and Congressional Republicans handled “repeal and replace.”

To be clear, I’m not upset that the proposed repeal and replace bill didn’t pass. It was a horrible bill. I’m upset at the way that it was handled – upset for the Republicans across the country who faithfully voted for people who promised them something so much better, failed miserably, decided to leave things exactly as is, and shrugged off all responsibility for not living up to their promises.

Also to be clear, I am no fan of ObamaCare. I wanted, and still want, to see a single payer system, like nearly every other developed country in the world has. Surely America could examine their systems, get our brightest minds together to figure out what works and what needs tweaking, and create our own version that outshines all of them, no? But alas, that would be “socialism” – you know, like our socialist police and fire departments, our socialist military, our socialist highway maintenance, and all the other horrible socialist evils that our country is already woefully neck-deep in.

When ObamaCare was first proposed, you couldn’t go a day without hearing about the “death panels” – oh, the terrible death panels, the faceless government bureaucrats in their fluorescent-lit rooms, sitting behind their desks looking down coldly at the suffering masses, deciding with automaton-like indifference which people were going to get treatment for their health issues and which would be left to simply die a slow and agonizing death. Yes, we Americans much prefer our death panels to be faceless, profit-driven corporate bureaucrats sitting behind their fluorescent-lit desks and deciding with cold, automaton-like indifference who will get treatment and who will die a slow and agonizing death – and lose their home to pay for it. Because it’s not socialism.

In 2010, Obama reached out to Republicans with a healthcare compromise whose flaws were glaring. Everyone would be required to buy health insurance from the existing private companies, and there would be no caps on what those insurance companies could charge people and no caps on the what pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies could charge. What could possibly go wrong? The carrot for Americans was that they could no longer be denied coverage for “pre-existing conditions.” The plan began its implementation in 2014.

The result was painfully predictable. American citizens, now a captive audience for the health insurance industry, saw their rates skyrocket. In my own healthy family of three, our insurance rates with the same company for the exact same policy over four years went from $9,000 annually to a proposed $41,000 annually. What other industry can raise their fees by 60% each year and get away with it?

ObamaCare was a profound offense to Republicans in Congress. For years, its repeal became a key rallying cry for them. They couldn’t wait to get rid of it. Throughout Obama’s presidency, they introduced bill after bill to eliminate it, knowing full well that Obama would veto any such bills and save them from the consequences of what they were proposing. Along the way, Republicans used Obama’s unwillingness to end ObamaCare to further rile up their base.

Then suddenly the seeds of Congress’s faux rage bore fruit, and they found themselves in full control of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Presidency. Nothing could hold them back – whatever policies they wanted to enact, now they could finally do it.

The cherry on top? Their elected Republican President had spent months at his rallies further stirring up and exploiting people’s anger, frustration and struggles by campaigning on “immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as ObamaCare.” Lest we forget this charlatan’s words amid his current claims that he never said them, here you go – of course, I could post hundreds more:

But Congressional Republicans also suddenly realized that now instead of just saying that ObamaCare was bad, they had to actually present something better, something that lived up to their new President’s flippant promise of lowering everyone’s premiums and covering all Americans. You know, the promise that helped him get elected. The President put Congress on the spot, telling them to put a plan on his desk immediately. But they couldn’t agree on a plan. They all agreed that ObamaCare was bad, but they had no unified idea for a replacement.

In the end, rather than take the time to come up with a solid plan on which they could get a consensus within their own ranks, Republicans hastily threw together a slap-dash plan. According to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, their plan would cause Americans’ premiums to go up, would result in 24 million fewer people being insured, and, because the American public demanded this, would give $197,000 tax cuts to all of the richest 1% of Americans. You remember all the struggling people working three jobs to try to feed their families insisting that any worthwhile replacement for ObamaCare had to give rich people a nice, big, fat tax break, right? It’s only logical.

It was obvious that Democrats wouldn’t support such a plan, but Donald Trump and Paul Ryan couldn’t even get sufficient support from fellow Republicans. By the time they were to vote on the bill, they were still anywhere from 9 to 36 Republicans short of the number of Representatives that they needed to pass it. Rather than experience the embarrassment of their bill failing, they called off the vote. House Speaker Paul Ryan went before the press and justified his failure with a weak “governing is hard.”

Trump took even less responsibility. His plan now, according to a call that he immediately placed to the Washington Post in order to put his own spin on the story, is to walk away, “let ObamaCare explode” and blame the Democrats: “We couldn’t get one Democratic vote … now they own ObamaCare.”

Really? You control the White House and both houses of Congress, your big effort on healthcare was to demand a vote on a hastily cobbled and deeply flawed plan that nobody could agree on, and when you couldn’t get enough votes for it from your own party, your “Plan B” is to walk away and try to blame the other party? Seriously?

“I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days,” Trump told Costa “How many days is it now? Whatever.” And he laughed. He freakin’ laughed.

Meanwhile, Americans who are struggling to pay their premiums, trying to pay for their skyrocketing medication costs, Americans who desperately need a better healthcare system and who voted for Trump and the Republicans based on an incessant, rabid and full-throated promise to “immediately repeal and replace ObamaCare” (see above video) are now simply left to continue their struggle, continue to watch their premiums and other costs go up, and are supposed to be placated by an infantile, pathetic, self-serving and logically feeble argument that Trump and the Republicans aren’t responsible for it?

I can’t even imagine how incensed Republican voters must be right now if I’m this angry for them.

– rob rünt


 

 

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