The America First Healthcare Plan is nothing but Trump’s desperate attempt to use a do-nothing executive order save the 2020 election after four years of broken promises to repeal Obamacare and “fix” the healthcare system.
Other than illegal immigration and defunding Planned Parenthood, the promise to fix healthcare and repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been perhaps the primary reason voters have supported the Republican Party over the past 10 years — support that reached its zenith in 2016 when America gave Trump, McConnell, and Company full control of Washington.
After making and breaking the promise to repeal Obamacare in 2012 and 2014 — McConnell always claimed it couldn’t be done with Obama in the White House — Trump and the GOP assured America in 2016 that if we gave them the keys to the kingdom, they’d finally get the job done.
Heading into the 2018 midterm election, the GOP’s “commitment” to fixing healthcare was again on the TOP 10 reasons to vote Republican as Trump and McConnell promised to really, really, really repeal Obamacare if voters would ignore their lies to do so in the past and let them keep their majority.
Of course, that effort failed BIGLY. Voters not only ignored their lies, they handed the GOP a humiliating defeat after voting to give Democrats the biggest midterm election victory since Watergate.
The 2018 Blue Tsunami should have been an opportunity for Trump and the GOP to make a course correction; instead, they decided their lies worked so well in 2016 that they’ll use them again in 2020.
Trump spent the summer of 2019 doubling down on the Obamacare issue by declaring that his Republican Party would “soon be known as the party of healthcare,” and he promised to announce a “phenomenal” new healthcare plan by fall of that year. Of course, he never presented a plan because, most likely, it doesn’t exist.
Still, with the 2020 election approaching faster than a speeding bullet and his chances of victory growing dim, Trump continues to spread the lie that he will fix the healthcare system and repeal Obamacare, a lie he repeated last week.
Surrounded by all the pomp and circumstance we’ve come to expect from the reality TV president, Trump finally unveiled his long-anticipated health care “plan” on Thursday when he issued two do-nothing executive orders claiming that “Obamacare is no longer Obamacare” after Republicans tossed the individual mandate penalty. He made the claim comment while rolling out his “America First Healthcare Plan,” which The Washington Post noted was not actually a “plan” at all, but merely a list of “requests for legislation.”
The first executive order makes protecting patients with pre-existing conditions the “policy” of the U.S. — protections that have already been enshrined into law through the Obamacare law Trump and the GOP promised to repeal.
“The historic action I’m taking today includes the first-ever executive order to affirm it is the official policy of the United States government to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.
“We’re making that official. We’re putting it down in a stamp.”
“The speech and executive order stood as a tacit admission that Trump had failed to keep his 2016 promise to replace his predecessor’s signature achievement with a conservative alternative,” Washington Post reporter Toluse Olorunnipa wrote. “Unable to repeal the law, Trump appeared open to simply rebranding it.” (emphasis mine)
The other executive order directs Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to explore ways to address surprise medical bills if Congress does not act by January 1.
The motivation behind Trump’s do-nothing executive orders were made crystal clear when he also announced a vote-buying plan to give Trump promised that millions of seniors would receive $200 coupons toward the cost of prescription drugs. He claimed the coupons would be sent to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries “in the coming weeks,” but the White House has not released any details about the president’s plan. It is unclear how it would actually be funded — or if it is even legal.
Why does Trump continue to promise to fix healthcare and repeal Obamacare when he clearly has no plan to do so?
To begin with, he doesn’t believe in a free market solution to healthcare. Trump believes in the universal healthcare aspect of Obamacare and said so in 2016 as a candidate when he promised his plan would “take care of everybody.” He doesn’t want to repeal Obamacare, he just wants his name on it.
In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Trump openly advocated for universal healthcare (emphasis mine):
“I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one. We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by healthcare expenses. We must not allow citizens with medical problems to go untreated because of financial problems or red tape. It is an unacceptable but accurate fact that the number of uninsured Americans has risen to forty-two million.
“Working out detailed plans will take time. But the goal should be clear: Our people are our greatest asset. We must take care of our own. We must have universal healthcare.”
Back in June, the Trump administration filed a legal brief to the Supreme Court arguing Obamacare be entirely struck down as unconstitutional despite the fact that the high court has upheld it twice already. I’m sure it’s just an amazing coincidence of timing, but the case won’t be heard until near the November election and most likely won’t be decided until afterward.
But that’s not really an issue because Trump doesn’t really care one way or the other about healthcare. It’s all about trying to save his diminishing re-election prospects and those of the GOP. By filing the brief, Republicans can blame the courts for saving Obamacare instead of blaming themselves for failing to repeal it if the Supreme Court upholds it again.
Trump loves socialized medicine and it’s always been his intention to impose some form of universal healthcare on America. If there were any doubts about that, they were answered in a tweet he sent out when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Obamacare case:
….Obamacare is a joke! Deductible is far too high and the overall cost is ridiculous. My Administration has gone out of its way to manage OC much better than previous, but it is still no good. I will ALWAYS PROTECT PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS,ALWAYS!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020
Trump and the GOP have repeatedly failed to deliver on their promise to fix healthcare and repeal Obamacare. This is why they engage in the politics of distraction (America First Healthcare Plan executive order) and it’s why they’re recycling — for the fourth election in a row — the promise to repeal Obamacare.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.