BY FROMA HARROP
Many Democrats don’t get this, but the Mueller report has done them a great service. Concluding no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia but no exoneration on obstruction of justice hardly takes the president off the hook of possibly criminal behavior. But it does take impeachment off the table.
This will help Democrats avoid the political peril of dragging the country through a chaotic partisan fight with the president. They can now work on getting rid of Trump the cleanest way: in an election. They can do that by focusing on the people rather than on him.
Sure enough, Democrats have just released a plan for expanding health coverage and restoring the benefits that Trump and allied Republicans have been sabotaging. Trump would much rather rant about the terrible things others are doing to him than about the terrible things he’s doing to Americans’ health care security.
His agenda is highly unpopular, which is why he and his helpers have preferred applying slow poison to the Affordable Care Act under the cover of night rather than exposing themselves over a big vote in Congress. Interesting that Trump recently erupted with insulting tweets about John McCain, an American hero who’s been dead for seven months. One excuse for renewing the bizarre attacks was the late Arizona senator’s public vote to stop a bill that would’ve dismantled the ACA.
Trump characterized the bill as repeal and replace – but there was no replacement. He’s been promising a beautiful replacement since he ran for president, vowing not to take away the people’s health care.
But now it’s no more nice guy trying to discretely kill off the ACA. The Trump administration has filed a motion to have the federal courts strike down the whole thing. Millions could lose their health coverage obtained under Medicaid or through subsidized private insurance. Protections for pre-existing medical conditions – gone. Better prescription coverage for Medicare beneficiaries – gone.
Some background: Judge Reed O’Connor of the federal District Court in Fort Worth ruled in December that when Congress ended the individual mandate fining those who didn’t have health coverage, it eliminated what was deemed a tax – the basis on which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the mandate as constitutional. O’Connor further declared the entire ACA invalid. Trump’s Justice Department supports his decision.
See the clever footwork? The Republican Congress threw out the individual mandate. No one wants to pay taxes, right? Now rather than forthrightly vote to take away health coverage, they’re asking the courts to do the dirty deed.
It was a mere five months ago that Republicans running for re-election promised, hands on hearts, to preserve coverage for pre-existing conditions. The public didn’t believe them then, which is a big reason Democrats currently control the House. Somehow these latest moves are unlikely to restore that lost confidence.
And this is why Democrats need to stop obsessing about Trump’s lies and provocations [they’re never going to stop] and show the public why he needs to go.
Democrats, many independents and never-Trump Republicans remain understandably traumatized by an election in which Trump got three million fewer votes than his opponent but still won by a fluke of the Electoral College. But that should also remind them that he fell behind so badly on the popular vote despite the sneaky Russian campaign to elect him, despite James Comey, despite Hillary Clinton’s flaws as a candidate. And that was the high point of his approval ratings.
Democrats, stop playing Trump’s game by making it all about him and his cracked personality. Force him onto your field, which is public policy.
The Trump presidency will not be repealed. Replacement, however, shouldn’t be that hard.
– Froma Harrop’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer