Trump’s health care failure exposes weaknesses



House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks during a Republican health care briefing on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 on Capitol Hill.

By Matt Silich , Columnist

For all the recent hand-wringing about the millennial generation’s need for instant gratification, there is perhaps no better public example of that stereotypical impatience than 70-year-old President Donald Trump.

Trump spent a significant portion of the past six years or so vaguely lambasting the Affordable Care Act to rile up the Republican Party’s base. He jeered President Barack Obama and bloviated about how badly Obama’s legislative legacy would hurt regular Americans.

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    Given his apparent passion for the issue, it was no surprise when Trump frequently promised on the campaign trail to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act within the first 24 hours of his presidency.

    Now, over two months since his inauguration, Trump faces an embarrassing reality: the Republicans’ initial health care solution failed so catastrophically that the president and Speaker Paul Ryan were forced to pull the bill from congressional consideration before the House voted on it Friday afternoon.

    Ryan was the driving force behind the American Health Care Act, which Republicans developed and rushed to a vote within weeks of its creation.

    The GOP was admittedly in a difficult predicament when faced with repealing the Affordable Care Act. For all the law’s imperfections, the general and unsurprising consensus among Americans is that they enjoy easier access to health care.

    It’s now quite difficult to satisfy all sides of the health care equation, including voters who’ve become accustomed to the advantages of attainable health care for low-income families and those who dislike the burden the Affordable Care Act places on the healthy and wealthy. Trump himself promised to promote universal health care after repealing the Affordable Care Act, while simultaneously improving coverage and lowering premiums for everyone. That’s not logistically possible, but it was a nice thought.

    One might deduce from such a complex situation that repealing the Affordable Care Act would take a great deal of preparation, work and time. Ryan and his fellow legislators undoubtedly put in the work to craft the failed bill, but the other two necessities were severely lacking.

    In part because of that unnecessary haste, the American Health Care Act even split the GOP down the middle. Centrist Republicans timidly supported its half-measures from under Trump’s small thumb while far-right activists pushed to slap last-minute amendment after last-minute amendment on the bill or just discard it altogether.

    Trump ultimately had no choice but to pull the bill Friday. Ryan’s public persona — the competent, controlled man in charge — took a huge hit, and his recovery will be crucial to maintaining power over the fractured Republican Party.

    Though Ryan’s rebound is in question, there’s no doubt Trump will survive this setback. A man who came back to win the presidency even after admitting his propensity to commit sexual harassment on a live microphone is surely unkillable in the public eye. But what’s left of the president’s reputation will be further tarnished, and his approval ratings will likely continue to test whether a lower limit on such poll numbers exists.

    Trump has thus far proved mostly incapable of making any significant changes outside of those he can do with the swipe of a pen, using the express power of the executive branch.

    Executive orders, other than the twice-failed Muslim ban, and Supreme Court nomination notwithstanding, Trump’s most significant accomplishment thus far is probably taking a few strokes off his golf game.

    Our president, who complained ad nauseam (and still does) that our leaders “don’t win anymore,” just lost so badly that his best option was to completely upend the Monopoly table before he landed on Boardwalk.

    After the public capsizing of the Affordable Health Care Act, it seems the pressure of the White House may be starting to affect Trump. The New York Times published multiple stories this weekend that said Trump was battered and bruised by the legislative battle. Perhaps next time it would benefit him to actually learn what the bill he’s proposing entails.

    “As Mr. Trump retired to the White House residence, he sounded tired in every way, including in spirit, his advisers said,” the Times reported. “There was a weariness about him that had not been present a day earlier.”

    These rumors call into question whether Trump truly has presidential stamina. Still, a recoiling Trump had enough energy Saturday to fall back on his most reliable political strategy: blaming Obama and the Democratic Party.

    “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE,” Trump tweeted. “Do not worry!”

    In that tweet, Trump perhaps spoke as close to the truth as he has in days: something in Washington certainly seems ready to burst, but it’s not the Affordable Care Act.

    Matt is a senior in Media.

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