The Art of The Heel

After seven years of symbolic votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act that never had a chance of passing, and campaigning to repeal Obamacare by taking advantage of their constituents’ gullibility in poisoning anything “Obama,” (many of them not cognizant of the fact that the ACA and Obamacare are the same thing), the Republicans finally became the dog who caught the car.

The shit sandwich of a bill they came up with is the American Health Care Act. It is a tax cut for the wealthy wrapped up in a thin veil of what they claim to be a new and improved health care plan (if by “health care plan” they mean the availability to purchase a worthless insurance policy that doesn’t cover anything) for the American people.

Remember the not too distant past, when Republican leadership railed against the ACA being rammed down peoples’ throats under the cover of night, with no chance to read the bill, when in actuality there were 15 months of debates and over 160 Republican sponsored amendments filled with poison pills to water down the bill, all for the chance of passage. In the end, the Affordable Care Act passed without a single Republican vote.

Compare that with the AHCA, which was drafted in three weeks, literally in secret, with no debate and no chance for amendments. House leaders didn’t even know how much the bill would cost because they didn’t care to wait for the Congressional Budget Office score, which ultimately estimated that 24 million people would lose their health care coverage while saving $337 billion over the next decade. That was later revised to saving only $150 billion when GOP leadership made last minute changes to try to garner more votes. It would also cost more in premiums for older and lower income Americans than what the ACA currently does. That’s a far cry from Donald Trump’s campaign promise that everyone would be covered.

"We're going to have insurance for everybody," Trump told The Washington Post. "There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us."
"[They] can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better," he said.

All this brings us to yesterday when the House vote on the AHCA was to happen, except that it’s such a toxic bill they didn’t have the votes to pass it, and not for the reasons you might think. Yes, some of the more moderate GOP members are worried too many people will lose coverage over the plan. But the heartless House Freedom Caucus (if by “freedom” you mean freedom to die if you get sick) doesn’t think it goes far enough in cutting aid for those who need it most. The vote was delayed until 7pm when in comes the Negotiator in Chief fresh from playing trucker to meet with the Freedom Caucus in an attempt to swing votes his way, despite what White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says (who I will refer to from now on as “Baghdad Bob”).

Reportedly on the table was cutting essential health care coverage basics, like maternity and newborn care, hospitalization, lab and diagnostic tests, and pediatric care. (Rhetorical question: At what point is health insurance coverage no longer considered health insurance coverage?) That in turn infuriated the moderates who then were reassured that some basic coverage would be taken care of to the tune of $15 billion by keeping some ACA Medicare taxes in place.

It would seem that after all that failed, a frustrated Trump made an ultimatum: vote on and pass AHCA Friday or he’ll move on, keeping Obamacare in place.

And here is where the art of the heel comes in. Trump is betting on the fear of House Republicans reluctant to vote yes on this bill to have to go back to their constituents and explain why they went against their campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. This is a huge gamble for Trump considering that the overwhelming majority of the people do not want the ACA repealed unless there is an improved law in place, in which the AHCA falls far short. On the flip side he is blindly hoping to garner some yes votes from the Freedom Caucus, whose main purpose since its Tea Party inception is to block legislation, not create legislation. How many of those legislators will buckle?

Either way, Trump keeps showing us who he is. This bill has virtually no chance of passing the Senate if it passes the House today. But it doesn’t matter to Trump who he hurts, whether it’s millions of American people who will lose their health care coverage despite his promises of everyone being covered by a “terrific” plan, or the politicians who will face their constituents and explain why they A) voted to take away their health care or B) didn’t vote to repeal Obamacare.

If it goes Trump’s way, he’ll revel in the credit. If it fails, he’ll point at the Republicans’ failure in Congress. Nothing is ever Trump’s fault because in his addled, syphilitic mind, he is never wrong.


UPDATE: After it was apparent that Speaker Paul Ryan didn't have the votes to pass AHCA out of the House in a forced vote at 3:30pm, Trump reluctantly told Ryan to pull the bill from the floor. Trump instigated a game of Chicken and blinked first.

I was wrong on one thing: Trump didn't blame Ryan, the Freedom Caucus or the Republicans at all for the horrible loss. He, of course, blamed the Democrats for not supporting a bill that would have taken health care coverage away from 24 million Americans.

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