President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.
After the report on the investigation into the 2016 elections by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was given to the Justice Department, leading to a terse memo from Attorney General William Barr that has at least for the moment alleviated the immediate threat of impeachment of President Donald Trump over the still-unreleased report’s conclusions, Trump immediately started pushing hard on a fresh effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act–a program that has hung on tenaciously despite numerous attempts to repeal and a number of successful attempts to weaken President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.
Well, as CNN reports today, the President is abandoning this latest campaign as quickly as it began:
President Donald Trump on Monday night backed away from his push for a vote on an Obamacare replacement until after the 2020 elections, bowing to the political reality that major health care legislation cannot pass in the current Congress.
Trump’s statements come a week after his administration announced that it now agreed with a judge’s ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be scrapped. The opinion was a dramatic reversal from the administration’s previous stance that only portions of the act could not be defended…
“The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare. In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare. Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House. It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America,” Trump declared in a series of tweets. “Also, Republicans will always support Pre-Existing Conditions. The Republican Party will be known as the Party of Great HealtCare. Meantime, the USA is doing better than ever & is respected again!”
Between now and the 2020 elections, there is a more-than-zero chance that the Affordable Care Act will be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. In that event, it would be crucial for a replacement plan to be quickly passed into law to avoid the loss of health coverage for some 20 million Americans–including hundreds of thousands in Colorado–who depend on the ACA today. By punting the issue until after the election, any such disruption would be overwhelmingly blamed on Republicans who have been trying to tear the law down from its inception. Indeed, the vote by the GOP majority in Congress to zero out the tax penalty for not obtaining insurance is central to the latest legal challenge against the law, arguing that without the “mandate” the ACA isn’t functional.
If the ACA is upheld after this latest challenge, its severely compromised present state still threatens to collapse the whole system–damage done incrementally through both neglect and purposeful actions like zeroing out the mandate and cutting off key subsidies to insurance companies. Action needs to be taken in good faith to shore up the ACA now, not dismantling it by the legislative equivalent of throwing spitwads. Over two years into the Trump presidency, it’s simply not enough to blame the previous administration for these ongoing challenges. The voters stopped buying that in 2018 with clear results.
Next to Trump himself, the Republican perhaps most imperiled by this turn of events on health care in the whole nation is Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. A combination of timing and deliberate strategy has left Gardner much more exposed on this issue than other Republican Senators up for re-election in 2020. In 2010, Gardner’s campaign for Congress was basically a single-issue assault on the Affordable Care Act. In Congress, Gardner repeatedly leveled misleading attacks about “hundreds of thousands of Coloradans losing their coverage” even as the ACA drove the rate of uninsured in Colorado to historic lows.
And back in 2015, Cory Gardner promised that if “Obamacare” was overturned, Republicans would be ready:
The Republicans will have plan in place if the ruling is for the plaintiffs. Our plan will be ready to go. And this president then will have to decide whether he wants to stand with our plan to make sure that we have an answer for the American people, or if the wants to try to inflict pain on the American people. [Pols emphasis]
Today those words would apply perfectly, wouldn’t they? But Gardner can never use them. Over and over since Trump’s election in 2016, Gardner has expressed support for Republican replacements for the Affordable Care Act–replacements that either never got past the drafting stage or were voted down because of the “pain” they would “inflict” on the American people in the form of millions of Americans losing their coverage.
You know, the one thing Gardner said he didn’t want to happen. But he voted yes anyway.
Cory Gardner didn’t have to make opposing the ACA the centerpiece of his career in federal office. He didn’t have to lie about Coloradans losing their coverage in 2013. He didn’t have to promise a Republican replacement that would protect Coloradans as well as the ACA has, then vote for legislation that would actually strip Coloradans of their coverage the way Gardner falsely claimed the ACA had done. All of these were deliberate political choices made by a politician who calculated that he could win elections this way.
As of now, Gardner has nothing to show for it. Only hard questions he can’t answer truthfully.
And eight wasted years.