Last week, President Trump stunned his own party by declaring that, in the wake of his administration’s surprise endorsement of another long-shot lawsuit to nullify Obamacare, they were going to unveil their latest and greatest alternative. “We’re coming up with plans,” he told reporters. “And if the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out, we will have a plan that’s far better than Obamacare.”
What followed was Republicans in Congress publicly pretending to follow Trump’s new orders, while privately griping that they didn’t have a plan and didn’t want to run another election on health care after being slaughtered on the issue in 2018. “We need a plan, and right now we don’t have one,” one Republican senator told Politico. “I’m not going to just throw this to the whims of our creativity.”
The “whims of their creativity” is a somewhat delicate way of saying the Republican party is structurally and endemically incapable of devising a health-care program that is remotely acceptable to the public. The reason, which has been amply demonstrated over the last decade, is that most people think “great” health insurance gives everybody access to medical care. But paying for that care requires some combination of taxes and regulations on insurance, both of which violate conservative dogma.
Trump has spent the last year pretending that Republicans were on the verge of delivering terrific health care for every U.S. citizen, but were foiled at the last second by bitter deep-state operative and failed Vietnam War pilot John McCain. (“He got to a vote and he said, ‘Thumbs down.’ And our country would have saved a trillion dollars and we would have had great health care.”) There was no plan to save a trillion dollars while providing great health care. The plan voted down by McCain was a placeholder bill designed to buy time for Republicans to keep up the pretense that they would come up with a plan in the future.
Last night, Trump conceded that the terrific Republican plan would once again be delayed. The new plan will be unveiled, he promises, after the next presidential election.
If Republicans have a plan to give everybody better health care for lower premiums and lower deductibles, it seems crazy that they would keep it under wraps until after the election. But maybe people just love surprises.