A warning: It’s not the ‘I’ word
BY PETER F. STEVENS
This writer is not in the business of predictions. In November 2020, however, President Donald J. Trump can be defeated. He can be trounced, actually, on one, and perhaps only one issue: It isn’t impeachment; it’s healthcare.
If the Dems collectively come to their senses and turn to the president’s Ahab-like obsession with eradicating the ACA (Affordable Care Act), the so-called Blue Wave of 2018 will look like a ripple in comparison. Mitch McConnell knows it, which explains his warnings to the party and the genuine GOP terror that the US Supreme Court will overturn the ACA as unconstitutional in June 2020.
Here is a second prediction: If Trump’s packed Supreme bench does his bidding, buttressed by the nearly unprecedented fact that his lackey, Attorney General Willian Barr, has done a legal 180 to support his boss’s determination to wipe out any and all things Obama—especially “Obamacare”—the GOP is finished. The president, at the urging of Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff and a man who has earned the mantle of the nation’s most myopic and cruel Irish American, has given the Dems a pre-election gift. Of course, the Dems, aka the Party of Sancho Panza, and the media appear too busy chasing down every blind alley of the Mueller report. Trump’s biggest wound, self-inflicted, could prove mortal if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and company open that gift from the White House and the Department of Justice.
While the President’s daily assaults against the rights the Constitution assigns to Congress, to the First Amendment, to the “enemies of the people,” and to simple truths rage on, Mulvaney has somehow managed to tell a whopper bigger than just about any lie that has spouted from Donald Trump’s mouth.
That’s some feat, but here’s the proof: Recently, the ABC journalist and “This Week” moderator Jonathan Karl asked this of Mulvaney: “What would happen to the more-than 60 million Americans with pre-existing conditions who are guaranteed coverage under Obamacare and the millions of adults under 26 who are able to stay on their parents’ plans if the health care law is declared unconstitutional.”
As USA Today’s William Cummings noted, Karl asked another question of the interim chief of staff: “Can you guarantee that if you succeed in court all of those tens of millions of people who have health coverage guaranteed because of Obamacare will not lose their coverage?”
“Yes,” Mulvaney answered. With that one word, he uttered the baldest-faced lie of the Trump administration to date.
The truthful answer would have been this: “No, Jonathan. My party has no viable replacement plan for the ACA. Never has and never will. I can guarantee that all Obamacare’s protections for preexisting conditions, no lifetime caps, etc., will disappear. The most important thing will be that the president has kept his campaign pledge to destroy Obamacare.”
The blarney from Mulvaney gets even worse. With the oh-so-adroit manner in which this self-professed practicing Catholic justifies his assault on the sick and poor whom his religion instructs him to help, this grand Irish American followed up his one-word prevarication with a stream of other lies about healthcare: “Both parties support them [coverage of preexisting conditions, etc.], and anyone telling you anything different is lying to you for political gain. Pre-existing conditions are going to be covered. The debate becomes: How do you best do it?”
Mulvaney inadvertently slipped in a phrase that rings true about him and his White House master—“lying for political gain.” Every time the president, Mulvaney, Kellyanne Conway, and company open their gobs and profess allegiance to Trump’s bluster that the Republicans are “the party of healthcare,” GOP members in the House and the Senate cringe and seek cover. After their crusade to stamp out the ACA legislatively came up short and cost them the 2018 Congressional midterms, they thought they could run away from the issue. Now, thanks to the president and Mulvaney, the GOP will have nowhere to hide in June 2020 if Obamacare goes down.
Here’s the thing: As egregious as Trump’s conduct and autocratic yearnings may be, and no matter how many Americans believe he has done something nefarious regarding Russia and our elections and obstruction of justice, many, if not most, voters don’t feel personally affected by those issues, which consume politicians, pundits, and the media. Affordable healthcare is entirely different. It affects everyone, and if 20 million or more Americans lose their policies and protections in 2020, Donald Trump, Mick Mulvaney, and the entire GOP will face the fury of the nation.
And they won’t be able to blame the Dems. The GOP will own the issue and have no one to blame but themselves. They have no healthcare plan to replace Obamacare. If the Supreme Court declares that the ACA violates the Constitution, it is game over for the president and the party that has so slavishly followed him. No words from the Brander-in-Chief will serve to save the GOP at the ballot box.
No one can reasonably expect that the Donald Trump-owned Republican Party – and the duplicitous Irish American sitting at the right hand of the president in the White House – will heed the words of Ireland’s “Liberator,” the 19th-century statesman Daniel O’Connell, who said, “Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong.” What’s stunning about the GOP’s determination to tear healthcare away from millions of Americans is that the mission is morally and politically wrong.Again, healthcare, not impeachment, is the true Achilles Heel of Donald J. Trump and the GOP.