Apr 3, 2017
On Friday, March 24th, Republican leaders in Washington pulled the plug on their legislative bill, intended to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) After pulling out every trick in their play book to threaten and cajole holdouts, Speaker of the House Ryan cancelled a “do or die” vote of Congress.
Trump, having been elected on a promise to make health care affordable, was stopped cold in his tracks, not by the Democrats, but by his own political party, the Republican Party.
Who thought this could happen? Clearly not Trump or Ryan, who held the clear majority in both House and Senate. While Trump, by his own admission, just discovered how complicated the ACA is, the Republicans of the House and Senate were well aware of its complexities.
In fact, led by Ryan, their plan was not about fixing health care. It was about converting federal Medicaid funding into lump sums of money or “block grants” that Republican state leaders can use as they please.
It was crafted for the wealthy and included elimination of any and all taxes on the wealthy and corporations and of any controls or mandates on the big medical insurers.
What caused the defeat of the bill were the irreconcilable differences in the Republican party over a plan that deeply touched voters with different interests.
In the past, the Republican Party has rested on a wealthy constituency that has disdain for the poor and working class. It rests on right wing morality to mobilize support by being against abortion, against gay marriage, against assistance to poor and working populations.
To the right wing of the party, the bill was unacceptable because it didn’t completely dump all federal spending for the population nor all controls over the bosses and the insurers.
To the middle and left of the party, especially to those elected by voters brought forward by Donald Trump’s campaign, the plan too heavily punished the very base that had brought Republicans to power.
In the end, polls showed only 17 percent of the population in favor of the bill, with 56 percent opposed.
The proposed legislation was no doubt a recipe for disaster for millions. But the failure of the bill leaves in place a health care system that is unaffordable in its own right. Under the current ACA plan passed by the Democrats, many families cannot afford both housing and health care, and many forego health care entirely due to costs like 6,000-dollar deductibles up-front before services are available, combined with sky-high premiums.
Republican plan? Democrat plan? In reality, these are two sides of the same coin. The two-party system is a con game to keep workers running between two sets of representatives, neither of which represent workers.