Democrats should let GOP own Obamacare repeal
By Froma Harrop
Herald Net, December 13, 2016
What if Republicans abruptly repealed Obamacare, chaos ensued and Democrats sat on their hands and watched? Democrats would be doing the right thing, both for the American people and for themselves.
Donald Trump has vowed to repeal Obamacare on day one of his administration. What would he replace it with? “Something terrific.” Vice President-elect Mike Pence concurs: “We’re going to repeal Obamacare lock, stock and barrel.” Good luck to them.
And they’ll need it. The Republicans’ sly repeal-and-delay gambit — repealing the Affordable Care Act right away while delaying the effective date until after the midterms — wouldn’t work. Just the act of setting a kill date for Obamacare would unleash pandemonium in the insurance market.
Democrats are wisely sending their regrets. “If they repeal without a replacement, they will own it.” incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. Democrats will not join them in a “half-baked solution that we will partially own.”
So what would happen if Obamacare came crashing down? Wouldn’t that hurt the very people Democrats have vowed to defend? Yes, but if Democrats participated in a sloppy repeal, they’d get blamed without fixing anything.
Better that an inflamed electorate sweeps Democrats into power and they build a new, simpler model for universal health care. They already have something terrific lined up, something called Medicare for all.
With Medicare, there are no annoying mandates, no gaming by insurers. Taxes pay most of the bills. Medicare employs a rational means of controlling costs, and the public already loves it.
Suppose Democrats approved Medicare for all and Trump were still president. Trump has said nice things in the past about Canada’s single-payer system. Chances are good that he would sign the bill.
A lot of what-ifs here, but one strongly suspects that on this issue, Trump really doesn’t care.
By Don McCanne, M.D.
The scenario here is quite unrealistic, but it ends with Medicare for all, so it’s nice to take a break and fantasize for a moment.
Even though the Republicans might pass a resolution to “repeal Obamacare” at some unspecified date far into the future, it would only be a resolution that they can file away once interest wanes. They certainly will not risk the backlash that would occur by causing maybe 30 million people to lose their insurance coverage. Even if there were a backlash and the Democrats took control of Congress, they would not enact Medicare for all. Some single payer supporters in Congress have become almost belligerent when asked if they would lead on single payer reform. It is not on the political horizon at this time. And even if Donald Trump were still president after Democrats gained control of Congress, he has already shown that his populist approach was a fraud as he surrounds himself exclusively with extreme conservatives.
Well, enough fantasizing. Let’s get back to the basics: education, coalition building, and grassroots organizing. It’s hard work, but it’s got to be done. D.C. won’t lead on this. The people have to.