Donald Trump has spouted a lot of baseless conspiracy theories about Barack Obama. In fact, there’s a strong case that Trump would never have won the White House, were he not such a shameless disseminator of delusional lies about America’s first black president.
On Friday, the president added another charge to his indictment: Obama deliberately designed the Affordable Care Act to fall apart — and cause massive suffering — as soon as he left office.
2017 “would be a disaster for Obamacare,” Trump said in a meeting with the House’s GOP leadership. “That’s the year it was meant to explode, because Obama won’t be here. That’s when it was supposed to be, get even worse. As bad as it is now, it’ll get even worse.”
The ACA was “meant to explode” and “supposed to … get even worse,” the year that Obama left the White House.
Why, exactly, Obama would design his signature domestic achievement to collapse at the end of his (then, hypothetical) second term is unclear. Maybe he knew a Republican would succeed him, and he wanted to stick them with the blame? Or, perhaps, he wanted to inflict grievous harm on the American people — but escape responsibility for it?
Regardless, it’s worth noting that Trump could try to use the powers of the executive branch to make his own prediction come true. If the Department of Health and Human Services actively works to undermine sign-ups for the ACA — as it considered doing this year — it’s not inconceivable that Trump could engineer the (currently nonexistent) death spirals he promises. Which would, ostensibly, make it easier to push Paul Ryan’s deeply unpopular Obamacare replacement through Congress.
Then again, it seems highly unlikely that the public would blame Democrats for a health- care crisis that happened under a Republican president’s watch.
As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes, Trump’s best bet, politically, is probably to just pass nothing, let the ACA continue as is — and keep blaming Obama for everything that Americans don’t like about their health-care system:
If the law survives, Trump can spend the next couple of years claiming that it is collapsing all around us — or rather that it continues to collapse, since it is already collapsing as we speak. And Republican voters will of course believe that this is the case, since it is an unshakable truism for them that the law has already failed in spectacular fashion.
… The beauty of this outcome is that it would keep intact an arrangement that has worked quite well for Republicans for years: They can continue to rail at the evils of the ACA, without having to deal with the fallout of it actually being repealed.
Out: Repeal and replace.
In: Complain and delay.