Terrific news! After the extended tease that ended in Thursday’s postponement, we’re set to have a House vote on the ACHA today! It’s probably going to be fail, which would be great, and if it somehow passes, that would be terrible. But regardless of the outcome, it’s incumbent on us to honor of one of the stupidest pieces of legislation we’ll see in our lifetime. So here, on the day of its potential death, let us pay homage by revisiting the eleven dumbest moments of the whole Trumpcare debacle.
1. That time Trump decided to make health care his first big foray into Congress, even though it’s the legislative equivalent of a land war with Russia.
Does he regret it? Hell yes. From the Times:
Mr. Trump has told four people close to him that he regrets going along with Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s plan to push a health care overhaul before unveiling a tax cut proposal more politically palatable to Republicans.
He said ruefully this week that he should have done tax reform first when it became clear that the quick-hit health care victory he had hoped for was not going to materialize on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the act’s passage, when the legislation was scheduled for a vote.
Um, a “quick-hit health care victory”? Did the guy even pay attention to ObamaCare, or was he too fixated on hunting down our former president’s certified Muslim terrorist birth certificate? That particular piece of legislation, which actually passed, went through such a torturous gestation that it was basically gutted and transformed into a Big Pharma giveaway in deference to Republicans, who then thumbed their nose at Obama, refused to vote for it, and spent the next seven years using it as a bludgeon against the man while working tirelessly toward the promised day when they could repeal it.
This should have served as a strong clue: Nothing about health care is easy. Trump and his advisers demonstrated an almost unthinkable level of naivete and historical ignorance if they thought that passing a new plan and repealing the ACA would be quick or easy.
Shit, even Hitler had a few successful invasions before he marched into the snow.
2. That time the Congressional Budget Office figured out that the ACHA would dump 24 million people off health insurance, hike premiums for the elderly, gut Medicaid in the long run, cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, penalize the hell out of people with even a short coverage lapse, and give huge tax breaks to millionaires.
I don’t know about you all, but when I want to market something to a large group of people, the first thing I do is make it clear that a whole bunch of them—specifically the most vulnerable—are going to be totally fucked, but that I’ll give handouts to the ones that don’t need them. Because, even though the old plan kinda sucked and is sorta failing and people don’t really like it, it’s important to make it crystal clear that the new plan will somehow be so godawful that you’ll long for the halcyon days of the old, shitty plan.
3. That time they reacted to the CBO report not by fixing the legislation or addressing the new concerns, but by being like, the CBO is bullshit and should be abolished.
Newt Gingrich led the “independent nonpartisan analysis is tyranny!” battle cry, but the best part of this was how HHS secretary Tom Price was one of the loudest complainers despite having praised Keith Hall, the CBO director, to the heavens. That was two years ago. But, while that may seem like the very recent past, it’s important to remember that it all went down in the pre-Alternative Facts era.
4. That time he got caught in a stupid battle within his own party, where the moderates wanted the bill to be less evil, but the ultra-right wanted it to be more evil, and he lost support from one side no matter which direction he moved.
Oops! Moderates aren’t super thrilled that 24 million will be losing health insurance. But oops! The Freedom Caucus wants an end to federal mandates, so that insurance won’t have to cover things like ER visits, mental health, maternity, prescription drugs, and etc. because this will technically make things cheaper, even if they also make more people die.
And it’s not even that Ryan and Trump are opposed to it! They just want to let it happen in the Senate, so the reconciliation process that would successfully cut Democrats out of the loop can go forward without “extraneous” material. But the Freedom Caucus didn’t believe them about the eventual Senate additions, and with good reason—the Senators themselves told them that nobody had even brought it up, which means that Trump and Ryan were lying to them. They may be evil, but they’re not stupid. And yet, this whole thing remains…
5. That time Trump agreed to do all that horrible Freedom Caucus shit anyway, and it cost him a bunch of moderate votes and didn’t even win the Freedom Caucus votes.
From the Times, again:
At a White House meeting with members of the hard-line Freedom Caucus earlier on Thursday, Mr. Trump had agreed to the conservatives’ demands to strip federal health insurance requirements for basic benefits such as maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits from the bill. But that was not enough to placate the faction, part of the reason that Thursday’s vote was placed on hold.
That led to “a slew of “defections from moderate Republicans in a 24-hour period, because the newly eliminated “essential health benefits” were a bridge too far even for them. (Apparently all the other terrible things in point two were regrettable, but fine.) One of them, Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), even said Obamacare was better, which basically the purest form of Republican heresy that exists in the known world.
Oh yeah, and the Freedom Caucus was still largely not on board.
6. That time Paul Ryan scheduled the initial vote to fall on the seven-year anniversary of the passage of the ACA, presumably for the triumphant symbolism.
The vote got canceled.
7. That time moderate Republicans used their PAC to threaten the Freedom Caucus with robocalls.
One million robocalls in 30 districts, all designed to fuel voter outrage and get the yokels to harass their representatives into supporting the ACHA. And all of it, of course, predicated on the notion that these yokels wouldn’t be smart enough to know that the thing they were supposed to be so fired up about would likely either strip them of health care coverage, jack up their premiums, or punish them in a litany of other ways, or that the Freedom Caucus members they were supposed to call actually wanted to do all these things to them and more, because they didn’t think the bill was quite cruel enough.
8. That time Trump kept threatening Republicans in various ways, but nobody really gave a shit.
First, he told Freedom Caucus members that he was going to “come after” them if they didn’t step in line, which basically implies that a sitting president would campaign against his own party in mid-term elections, which are themselves indicators of said president’s early success. Amazingly, that didn’t scare the Freedom Caucus…maybe because it was obvious nonsense?
Now, the threat has escalated, and he’s saying that if they don’t pass the ACHA, they’ll never have another chance to repeal Obamacare. Is it working? I’ll let this hilarious line from the Times story tell that tale:
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan emerged from the session and announced curtly that Mr. Trump would get his wish for a vote on Friday. Mr. Ryan refused to answer reporters’ questions about whether he expected the measure to pass.
9. That time Trump had to be told by a reporter that Thursday’s vote was postponed, because he was too busy posing for weird pictures in a tractor-trailer.
SO INSANELY DUMB!
Seriously, look at this asshole:
10. That time Trump insisted on a Friday vote despite support that is tenuous at best. Like, at the very best.
It’s honestly hard to tell if he’s just given up and wants to get the whole thing over with, or if he really thinks the “vote now!” strategy, coupled with the aforementioned threats, is truly the path to success. Either way?
11. The final vote itself.
If this horrible health care plan passes, crushing millions of Americans and decimating an already broken system?
If it doesn’t pass, and ends in a smoking heap on the House floor? In that case, there’s only one word to describe the comedy of errors leading to this massive administration-defining failure.
The word is “dumb.”