The Senate’s effort on health care has gone completely down the tubes so now the recriminations are flying, spreading blame. The President has urged them to resurrect it but at this writing that appeared unlikely. The GOP will first blame the Democrats, The House blames the Senate and President Trump says the buck doesn’t stop with him. No bill proposed by Republicans resembled what President Trump described during the campaign and after. He really didn’t care deeply about the policy so he wasn’t fully integrated into the legislative process. He cared primarily about the optics. They could have sent him most anything and he would have gotten up on the peach crate and sold it as the best health care bill ever. He cares about tax reform more and the failure to pass health care complicates his plans for tax reform.
He really wanted to get rid of the Obamacare taxes and although he had promised not to cut Medicaid, the bill did so by $800 bln. Those “savings” from health care reform would have been rolled into offsets for tax cuts in the tax reform bill. The plan is a huge tax cut overall, heavily weighted toward the highest income taxpayers which would be sold as economic stimulus to boost the growth rate. Obviously, none of this was going to do the folks at the bottom end of the economic base any good. I would go so far as to call it a reverse Robin Hood healthcare/tax reform plan as it would shift a couple $trillion from the bottom to the top of the economic food chain. This policy is transparent and I am amazed that Trump is considered populist.
Trump doesn’t like it when people cross him and there are several GOP Senators that he is displeased with right now. He claimed that the health care vote came up four votes short. That is not true. Four GOP senators came out publicly opposed but there were several more who may have noted “no” had it come to a vote. Donald is not going to let this slight go, so is demanding that McConnell call a vote on repeal so that GOP Senators have to publicly go on the record as opposing repeal which will potentially make them a target for a primary challenge and President Trump will be supporting their opponent. I really doubt that he will be successful in this recrimination but he is primarily sending a message for future votes that when you cross him he will come after you.
This will not really be fair as a few GOP Senators, if knowing that repeal will fail, will vote for it to avoid Trump’s wrath. That means it takes a profile in courage to buck the President and most Senators would pass on that award. The GOP could not come up with a replacement for Obamacare but they promised their base that they would repeal it. They have never voted for repeal of Obamacare when they knew it could be enacted. Nothing that fails is ever Trump’s fault. His supporters appear good with that. Yet if health care does collapse, which now may be part of their new plan, it seems like a tall order for the President to walk away from that politically unscathed just because he says so.
Probably every President has been called a liar at one time or another. Let us define what is a lie. George H. Bush promised, “Read my lips. . .no more new taxes” and then he raised taxes. George W. went to war in Iraq claiming it was justified as Saddam had WMD when he didn’t. Barrack Obama claimed that “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” when selling Obamacare which was not true. Frankly, I do not consider any of these examples to be lies as each believed them to be true when they were said. They were not premeditated. George H. never dreamt the conditions for new taxes would become necessary in his view. I think that Cheney and Rumsfeld may have known that there were no WMD in Iraq but they never told George W that. He ordered the war based on what he believed to be true. Barrack really thought that everyone could keep their doctor, but what he was told by advisors was wrong.
You can call all those things lies if you want but they were really statements based on misinformation that these presidents accepted that proved false. Lying is then utilized as a tool. My perception is that these previous presidents told falsehoods but they did not lie basis my definition. That is not my perception of the current President. To me that is extremely important and one of the things that sets him different from all others.
So what is the truth on health care? Obamacare will go down if the administration wants it to go down. That is not an inevitable result. If they really wanted to base a reform on the restructuring of Obamacare they physically could do so, but they would have to tolerate some things that ideologues believe politically intolerable. The truth is that Obamacare was essentially booby-trapped, so after being implemented as an entitlement for over six years, people have become dependent on it and will suffer losing it. None of the GOP replacements addressed that. Even President Trump called the House bill “mean” in that regard and he was telling the truth.
My wish is that they could sit down together without regard for politics or campaign promises, agree on premises of what they want to achieve for a health care system and design a bill that would reform our health care system and enact it. All the rest is just noise.
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.
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