‘Obamacare’ Still Standing: Why Trump and the Republicans Have Failed

The bill set to demolish the Affordable Care Act one piece at a time has been halted by the Democrats and three Republican senators, among them John McCain.

Former President Barack Obama’s health care law is still alive, or at least it will be for a good while. The plan by U.S. Senate Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act one piece at a time, by means of the so-called “skinny repeal” bill, foundered during the night between Thursday and Friday, July 28, 2017.

For Trump, this is a devastating defeat, politically and personally, which will probably aggravate his already grotesque obsession with everything his predecessor Barack Obama achieved.

The Role of John McCain

“The Senate’s health care bill is dead,” writes Axios, usually so careful not to exaggerate its tone. It was, according to Axios, the “Republicans’ last ditch effort.” There was also a hero to be found – or a villain, depending on the point of view — in John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona: war hero, GOP presidential candidate who ran against Obama in 2008, and subject of a brain tumor operation just a few days before.

McCain actually voted against the bill, which lost by 51 votes to 49. In addition to the Democrats and McCain, Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also voted against it.

McCain’s vote was decisive at the beginning of the week in allowing the Republicans to begin the debate on “Obamacare.” Shortly thereafter, however, he came out against the bill that had been proposed by his fellow party members.

The point for McCain was that the Republican Party had failed in its promise to produce a law capable of replacing Obama’s Affordable Care Act: “Skinny repeal fell short because it fell short of our promise to repeal & replace Obamacare w/ meaningful reform,” McCain said on Twitter.

What Would Have Happened Under the Republicans’ Law?

The “skinny repeal” bill would have increased the number of Americans without health insurance by 15 million in 2018, compared to the situation foreseen under “Obamacare,” and people buying insurance — in other words, those not covered by plans provided by businesses for their employees or by programs aimed at the poorest — would be paying a 20 percent increase on their premiums, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office, a neutral nonpartisan federal agency.

Obama: Trump and the Republican Right’s Obsession

Trump has clearly lost it in the face of yet another botched attempt by the Republicans in their effort to keep one of the election promises they repeated ad infinitum, with respect to a subject which has become a kind of nightmare for the GOP, the president and the entire staff: Obamacare.

It is almost as if wiping out this law would have wiped out the eight years of the first African-American presidency in history, a presidency that for many sectors of the Republican right and for a portion of the electorate was a kind of illegitimate intrusion, an abuse.

This was seen throughout these eight years in the repeated attacks concerning the alleged fraud over Obama’s birthplace — not in the U.S. but in Africa, which would have made him ineligible as president — the so-called “birtherism”charge, one of the more successful conspiracy theories in recent years, which Trump and his people used in the 2016 presidential election campaign.

What Happens Now?

Even The New York Times believes this Republican defeat in the fight against the Affordable Care Act is definitive — at least in the medium term.

There are too many senators, even within the GOP, who are not comfortable with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s choice to push things through in Congress. It is now probable that the process for new health insurance legislation will be handed over to committees, where attention to technical details and a bipartisan approach are the usual practice, and where, therefore, the amount of time needed will be much greater.

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