Obama tells Democrats: Whatever Republicans do on health care, call it 'TrumpCare'

Headshot image of Dan Calabrese
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Thursday January 05th, 2017

Because only the worst health care laws get named after the presidents who sign them.

I've actually considered whether Trump would want the ObamaCare replacement saddled with this name. I know I sure as hell wouldn't if it was me. The whole point of a market-oriented health care reform is that the government doesn't run health care, so it makes no sense to tell the nation that its trips to the doctor are courtesy of a politician.

Then again, Trump does like to see his name on things.

At any rate, Obama seems to think the man who just defeated his preferred candidate has a toxic political brand, and that calling the ObamaCare replacement TrumpCare would doom it to never-ending scorn and calls for repeal so relentless Trump and the GOP would rue the day they ever passed it:

Less than three weeks out from leaving the White House, Obama visited Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill with a mission to save his signature healthcare reform law as Republicans are moving quickly to unroll the Affordable Care Act.

In the closed-door meeting, the President urged fellow Democrats to not "rescue" Republicans by helping them pass replacement measures, according to sources in the room.

He also floated this idea: Start referring to the GOP's new plan as "Trumpcare."

The suggestion was a clear indication of the Democratic Party's goal of turning the tables on Republicans, who are already facing pressure to quickly craft a replacement bill.

As he walked by a scrum of reporters, Obama would only say this about the Democratic Party's message: "Look out for the American people."
 

What this tells you is that Democrats know there's no strategic or procedural path available to them to stop ObamaCare's repeal. They're reduced to calling press conferences displaying the phrase "Make America Sick Again" as a way of implying that without government-run health care we're all doomed to spend the rest of our days suffering from untreated maladies. And it's not too hard to infer what's behind Obama's implied threat, either:

Democrats are going to treat the replacement for ObamaCare - whatever it may be - exactly the way Republicans treated ObamaCare. They're going to portray it in the worst possible light. They're going to trot out people who supposedly lost their insurance because of it. They're going to claim people died because of it. They're rail against it endlessly and try to define Trump's entire presidency by it.

Will it work? You can never totally write off the possibility of a propaganda tactic that will have the media's full cooperation, but I see several problems here:

1. ObamaCare was passed over the objections of the public. Health care reform wasn't a top priority of the public when Obama was elected, and ObamaCare itself was wildly unpopular. Democrats passed it anyway, and since then Republicans vowing to repeal it have had electoral success at every turn with the exception of Mitt Romney in 2012, who wasn't helped by the fact that his own health care law in Massachusetts was similar to ObamaCare. Trump and the current congressional class of Republicans ran on repealing ObamaCare. Everyone knew they'd be getting that when they elected them.

Black Lives Matter leader hit with restraining order after threatening LA police official

2. If the replacement is not a big-government health care system like ObamaCare is, it's hard to see how you convince the public that amounts to health care delivered by Donald Trump. All the public wants is the freedom to make its own decisions about coverage, treatment and so forth. If the new law provides that, Democrats can carp all they want. The public will by and large be happy with the change.

3. I think the public is tired of American politics revolving around an unpopular health care law. We've been dealing with this for seven years now, since the temporary Democrat supermajority of 2009 shoved this turkey down our throats. The public has never liked it and wants to get rid of it, not only because it's a terrible law but also because we could and should be debating more important things. If the Democrats now want to have the exact same health care debate in reverse, I don't think the public is going to be interested in joining them for it.

That said, I hope Trump doesn't do what Trump sometimes does and take their bait. It would be rather Trumpy for him to essentially say, You want to call it TrumpCare? Great! I love it! TrumpCare it is! And it will be classy and luxurious too!

Yeah. Funny rejoinder to put on Twitter. But a bad idea. Let's just go back to the health care industry taking care of its customers without government presuming to run the damn thing. Health care is insane enough without politicians being so involved with it - regardless of who the politicians are.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!