ACA assassin

18. He doesn’t care if 20 million Americans die

America’s healthcare system is a mess. Ours is the only First World nation where lots of people routinely sicken and die because they cannot afford medical care. The reasons behind the mess are too numerous, and many of them too complex, to be discussed here. Suffice it to say that for decades various corporate interests, most notably the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, have wielded an inordinate amount of control over where and how the money funding Americans’ healthcare flows. Government efforts at intervention over the years—Medicaid and Medicare, for instance—have improved the situation somewhat in terms of giving more people access to care, although this has been at the expense of adding further layers of complexity onto what was already a labyrinth for both patients and providers to negotiate. At the end of the day, the fact remains that about 1 in 8 Americans have no health coverage at all, at least double that number are have insufficient coverage, and still more are at risk insolvency if they happen to get seriously ill or injured.

None of the above is particularly DT’s fault; it has been that way for years, and there is ample blame to go around. What is DT’s fault can be stated quite simply:

  • he promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better;
  • he has failed to keep his promise thus far;
  • if he is reelected, he almost certainly will keep his promise to repeal Obamacare;
  • he has no plans to replace it with anything else.

Obamacare, more formally known as the Affordable Care Act or ACA, was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010. It constituted the first major attempt by the U.S. government in decades to address the inadequacies of the American healthcare system. Far from a panacea, Obamacare is deeply flawed: among its deficiencies is the fact that coverage is prohibitively expensive for many of its potential enrollees. A single-payer system, such as the misleadingly named Medicare for All plan proposed by some Democrats, would fix that, but the political will to enact such a system is hard to come by. So we’re stuck with Obamacare.

For all of its shortcomings, Obamacare has brought health coverage to 20 million Americans who didn’t have it before and allowed many others to afford better coverage than they had previously. It also forbids private insurers from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions or making their coverage more expensive. Most importantly, it provides a proven framework to which improvements could be added, bringing near-universal coverage to Americans at long last.

DT and his toadies on Capitol Hill want to end all that, and with the pending installation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, they are likely to get their wish: oral arguments before the Court on the future of Obamacare are scheduled for November. Despite promising to provide a replacement plan for Obamacare, in four years the White House has failed to come up with one. So if DT is reelected, 20 million Americans will lose their health coverage, millions will be denied new coverage or see their premiums hiked, and the chances of a fair and rational system offering coverage to everyone will go up in smoke. If DT is denied a second term, and especially if the Senate flips to Democratic control, there will be several viable paths not only to restoring Obamacare but to building on it.

Give it a miss, Joe

During his town hall broadcast last night, DT cast doubt as to whether he’d tested negative for Covid-19 on the day of the debate between him and Joe Biden—a prerequisite for participating per the Commission on Presidential Debates. Unless there is credible evidence (perhaps a statement from his physician) that he has tested negative for next Tuesday’s debate, Biden should decline to appear. It is simply not worth the risk of becoming infected. We’ll need you alive and well in January and beyond, Joe.

Sick, spaced out, or just shameless?

21. He’s been getting weirder

Since contracting the coronavirus, DT has shifted his grandstanding into overdrive. Not content to kick back and focus on recovery, while basking in the bipartisan well wishes that only an ill president can amass, he has made a spectacle of himself both outside the hospital and back at the White House, endangering many other people in the process. Now he’s on the campaign trail again, putting countless others at risk.

He claims to be cured. Possibly he is, but there is no way he can know for sure; many Covid-19 patients relapse after seeming to recover, and others develop symptoms that linger. These symptoms frequently include what has come to be known as “brain fog,” a neuropsychiatric malady featuring difficulty concentrating and deficits in memory and cognition. This brain fog can last for months. Actually, it’s too early to know if it will ever go away completely. If he winds up showing signs of such a problem, will he be prepared to step aside? It seems unlikely. Will his Cabinet members be prepared to declare him unfit for office? That seems unlikely, too. For 45 months, amid a dizzying array of bad policy decisions, he has managed to refrain from launching a nuclear strike. If he decides to do something impulsive in that regard one day while suffering from brain fog, will anyone be able to stop him? He’s got three months to go in this term. We can cross our fingers for three months. Add another four years? No one can cross their fingers for that long.

While actively under treatment for the virus, he received several medications including a powerful steroid that is known to cause mania and delusional thinking. The potential side effects from such a drug could well explain the grandstanding that even by his standards has been over the top. Suppose he has a relapse and needs more of this drug? Again, we’re talking about someone with access to the nuclear codes. He also has a vast military and federal police officers at his disposal. If he wants to do something so vile that even his fellow Republicans wouldn’t approve of it, would they stand in his way? The nation has the right not to be pondering such questions for the next four years.

It hardly needs to be said that his thinking was already noticeably disordered and his behavior often borderline manic before he caught the coronavirus or took any drugs for it. It may be that he has been making a particular spectacle of himself lately simply because he is moved to do so, either from some hidden inner need or from a belief that doing so will gain him votes. News flash: the chances are vanishingly small that he will become calm and measured and sensible when he no longer has to worry about votes. He is someone who is accustomed to being the center of attention. His proclivity for outrageousness has served him well, and he will not abandon it after the election. If he gets another four years in the brightest spotlight on the planet, he is likely to up the ante. Never mind nuclear missiles and troops; we’re talking about somebody who can spark utter havoc with one tweet, and he’s got a large collection of delusional followers, many of them angry and well armed.

So what’s the deal—is DT sick, spaced out, or merely shameless? Perhaps he is all of the above. In the end, it does’t matter. Whatever the problem is, we cannot risk its manifesting itself until January 2025.

Immunity

In addition to claiming to be cured, DT also claims to be immune. This is bullshit. While the jury is still out on the frequency of contracting Covid-19 multiple times, enough patients have been reinfected to date that we know it is possible. Sometimes the second infection is much worse than the first. Anyone undecided voter who dislikes the idea of President Pence would do well to keep that in mind.

Speaking of becoming immune…as much as I’d like to see DT prosecuted when he leaves office this winter, I’d happily see him granted total immunity—even including civil cases—if he’d just resign, retire, and withdraw from public life entirely. His presence has a toxic effect on the nation, and what we need foremost is to heal.

Infection Q&A

Q. How long will it take before the right-wing media’s conspiracy mongerers decide that it’s a plot by the Democrats or the “deep state” or “antifa” that gave DT the virus?
A. They probably already have. It will also be suggested that he contracted it by wearing a mask once or twice.

Q. What is the prognosis?
A. Who knows? Karma is an unreliable force in the universe. Jair Bolsonaro and Boris Johnson, two other sorry excuses for national leaders, both appear to have recovered, although they may be experiencing lingering symptoms to which the public is not privy. Meanwhile, many perfectly lovely people have succumbed.

Q. How will this affect the remainder of the campaign season?
A. One hopes it will put a stop to any more MAGAt rallies, but there’s no telling. Masks or no masks, Joe Biden would do well not to show up for the next debate.

Q. What can you tell me about schadenfreude?
A. Nothing you don’t already know.

Q. Other than Melania, is anyone else affected?
A. Unknown at this time, but considering that he goes around maskless and the incubation period is up to two weeks, it seems improbable that the White House is going to be the embodiment of health between now and Election Day.

Q. What happen to an election if someone goes to that great tax shelter in the sky?
A. At this late date, it’s unclear exactly what would happen.

Q. If that were to happen, would it be ethical to jump for joy?
A. No. However, enormous sighs of relief would be entirely proper and patriotic.

Q. What would he be reincarnated as: a dung beetle or a slime mold?
A. Neither. He would be reincarnated as a coronavirus. In China. And slime molds are actually pretty cool.

Q. Is Mike Pence really as creepy as they say?
A. No, he is far creepier.

Q. Creepier than DT?
A. Not possible. However, creepy takes different forms. For instance, there’s creepy ’cause you don’t give a fuck about anyone but yourself, and then there’s creepy for the Lord.