Yesterday, the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing died. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was likely no more than three bites into his sodium-free soup lunch when three Republican senators announced that they wanted no part of the effort. And so, Obamacare lives to fight another day.
Before you crack your knuckles and get ready to write “libtard” in the comments section, do me the courtesy of allowing me a moment to editorialize.
Obamacare is no great shakes, either as a law or as a solution to the healthcare-related financial woes of our nation. It’s the ideal example of Henry Clay’s definition of a compromise, in which all parties are dissatisfied. All parties, that is, except for insurers and pharmaceutical companies, for whom the ACA functions as a slow, wet, sloppy blow job, complete with scrotum-licking and analingus. For the rest of us, not so much.
Having said that, it’s the only game in town, and efforts to simply get rid of it without a sensible replacement would have been tantamount to mass murder, and a very expensive one at that. Obamacare may suck, but going back to what we had before – something certain Republican senators suggested – is unthinkable.
If Republicans were smart, they would have responded to the law’s passage in two different ways. One way would have been to agree behind closed doors to leave it as is, and use it as a hot-button issue like abortion to fundraise with for decades. Republicans know perfectly well that abortion is here to stay, but they make lemonade by campaigning against it anyway, at least in the states where the religious conservatives outnumber the baby-killing heathens.
Another way the Republicans could have responded was by changing one or two cosmetic things in the bill, but basically leave it alone, then change the name to “FreedomCare” or “ReaganCare” or “RuggedIndividualismCare” or whatever the fuck. I mean, let’s be honest here, the only problem anyone really had with the bill was the “Obama” part. That was all they really had to change, and I’m sure millions of people who considered the law tyranny and fascism would have suddenly been totally cool with it.
Another thing that could have happened would have been in Trump’s tiny hands. Emperor Shit for Brains could have called for universal health care – by a different, less scary name, of course — and he could have expected immediate support for it. There is no American on earth who likes anything better than free, bureaucracy-less encounters, and despite what the “Atlas Shrugged” crowd may say, they like it that way too.
What Americans object to in Obamacare, and in health care generally, is not the cost. It’s not the individual mandate. It’s not trying to find a doctor who takes their insurance. It’s the forms. It’s the endless parade of documents that must be signed in triplicate, that require their 16-digit group number, that ask for their history of allergies, and so on.
This is the part they truly object to, and if you’ve ever sat in a doctor’s waiting room while other patients fill out forms and mutter profanities under their breath, you know this to be the case. Furthermore, if you’ve ever overheard Republicans as they complain about the department of motor vehicles, the post office or any other government-subsidized agency that they long to privatize, then you know that waiting in lines and filling out forms has the same effect on them as daylight on Dracula.
Eliminate the forms, lines and bureaucracy from the healthcare experience and you’ll have two things – something Republicans will love, and something called universal healthcare. Trump could then swoop in at the end, take credit for it and say that he had made good on his campaign promise to replace Obamacare with “something terrific.”
His sycophantic toadies like Sean Hannity will hail his brilliance on Fox News, and the 36% of voters who still support him will too. The remaining Republicans, who oppose universal healthcare on principle, will be vilified by his zombie-like cult followers, just as they were before the election. Republicans care about “winning,” not principles, and the passage of a Trump initiative will give them an opportunity to wear the giant foam “We’re #1” glove for a couple of days.
Of course, universal healthcare would require a massive tax hike in order to pay for it, and tax hikes are anathema to most people, Republicans and Democrats alike. Trump can appear to offset this tax hike by making a big show out of firing a few federal workers and ending a charitable program or two. If you’ve ever talked with the people who support him, you’ll know they think that stuff accounts for billions of dollars, rightfully returned to taxpayer wallets. And if you’ve ever talked to the people who hate him, you’ll know that stuff like taxpayer funding of PBS is of dire importance. Righties will feel vindicated and lefties will feel attacked. Everyone’s happy.
Despite the fact that this effort to kill Obamacare failed, no one should break out the balloons and confetti just yet. Republican lawmakers are likely to face a mob of torch-and-pitchfork-wielding constituents when they get home, all of whom were promised that this thing was going down, and next year they’ll have senate and congressional seats to defend. So, this thing is far from over.
In the meantime, we should all enjoy the spectacle of a major political party with control of all three branches of government, utterly unable to come through on the one thing they’ve been promising for seven years. Remember, during the Obama administration, these lawmakers voted to repeal the law over 60 times, and with a Republican president holding a fountain pen in his chubby widdle fist, there should have been exactly zero obstacles to getting this done by Valentine’s Day. And they still couldn’t do it. John Holmes arrived on the porn set, and he was too coked up to get an erection. Sad!
Republican voters, in the unlikely event that you’re reading this, now may be a good time to address your elected representatives, the ones who promised you this law would go away forever, the ones who saw your protest signs and whose Facebook pages you “liked.” Those guys. Now may be the time to ask them, “If you can’t come through on the one thing you’ve promised for the better part of decade, what is it that you do, exactly?”