The Demise of the AHCA

Alan Zendell, March 25, 2017

I never say, “I told you so”, and I won’t now, but as my posts have been saying for the last couple of weeks, no other outcome was possible. There was no way Trump could keep his promise of wonderful, affordable health care for everyone and satisfy the right wing of his party, and the “moderate” Republicans couldn’t vote for a Draconian measure like the AHCA and run for re-election in nineteen months. I never believed Obamacare was going away, and having seen the alternatives, the majority of Americans are glad it isn’t.

Was Trump’s promise to repeal and replace Obamacare ever anything more than a campaign slogan to garner votes? His party committed itself to that goal the day Obamacare passed. The possibility that Trump never cared about repeal shouldn’t surprise anyone. For him words are tools to be used in whatever manner suits his purpose, and more often than not, his purpose is misdirection and confusion. He loves the role of the unpredictable gadfly.

I don’t think he cares one way or another about health insurance. His family and friends are all covered, and his business career was that of a man who cared only about himself. Nothing about his entire past life suggests compassion for anyone outside his circle.

Whatever else you may think about him, Donald Trump is pretty smart. If the internet is to be believed his IQ is in excess of 150. It’s not possible that he didn’t understand the truths I laid out in previous posts here (Zero Sum Games, The Truth about Health Care.) If that’s true, why did he support the AHCA knowing it would die?

He never had a health care plan of his own, and until a couple of weeks ago, he had no understanding of how complex health care is. Faced with the reality that he was in over his head, he had no choice but to follow Paul Ryan’s lead. And why not? One of Trump’s basic principles is making sure he always has someone to blame when things go wrong. Don’t believe a word of the speech he made yesterday, thanking the Republican Party for all its hard work and blaming the Democrats. The blue collar workers in the rust belt won’t buy it. And if they turn on him he’ll lose his majority in the House next year.

I think Trump loves that his house majority crashed and burned in full view of the world. He thinks of himself as the only person who knows how to get things done, the White Knight for every voter who believes life has cut him a raw deal. But in Trump’s own words, if you don’t deliver the goods, people eventually catch on. When it becomes clear that the Republican tax plan won’t treat the Reagan Democrat crowd any better than the AHCA would have, he’s going to be dealing with some very angry voters who feel betrayed. And if he continues to be unable to rally his own party to agree on legislation, we may see the spectacle of him abandoning the right wing and having to reach out to Democrats.

That might actually work if he’s serious about an infrastructure bill. The right wing of his party will fight it to the death, but they may be outnumbered by Democrats who want it to pass. Who knows, this could all be part of a grand strategy in which Trump manages to undermine his own party to bring his brilliant deal-making talent into play and save the day. Wouldn’t he look like a hero, then?

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