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.

Half of a bad ticket

27. He has a creepy running mate

Four years ago, DT picked a truly creepy guy, Mike Pence, to be his running mate. Tonight that creepy guy goes head to head against Kamala Harris in the only vice presidential debate of the year. For that vanishingly rare species, the undecided voter, this debate should provide what the last one, due to a certain participant’s histrionics, lacked: an opportunity for both candidates to articulate policy positions.

Poor Mike Pence. As if it weren’t enough that the breadth of his mind is measured in fractions of a micron, he’s going to find himself representing a campaign that has no policy positions at all and defending an administration whose most notable accomplishment is that it has brought the strongest country in the world to its knees in four short years.

It seems likely he’ll brag about the robust state of the economy before the pandemic hit. That’s arguable to begin with, but even if one accepts the premise, it’s of the past now and will not return anytime soon. Even with Joe Biden in the Oval Office and a Democratic majority in the Senate, it will take years to rescue the economy from the damage the pandemic has inflicted. The Democrats do at least have a plan. It begins, as any viable plan must, with bringing the pandemic under control. This is something that DT has shown no interest in doing, and there is no reason to think anything would change were he to be elected to another four years.

There are only two options here. One is to vote for DT, who some sage writer once said couldn’t lead his way out of a paper bag. If he has a second term, the coronavirus death toll will continue to rise. Infection rates will continue to spike; millions more Americans will be sickened needlessly, and many will be unable to pay for the ongoing medical care they’ll require. Schools will continue to require shuttering, meaning some young students won’t set foot in a classroom till they’re fifth graders (if then) and millions of older students will attain their bachelor’s degrees without ever setting foot in a college classroom. A vast number of Americans will be evicted; millions more will be obliged to declare bankruptcy to avoid homelessness. I was going to mention the daycare crisis, but that’s a whole blog post in itself. Suffice it to say that if DT continues his reign of terror, the economy will not have the chance to improve; in fact, it will be a complete wreck in short order, and it will stay that way at least through 2024. In the face of that, DT will deny it all and insist that the exact opposite is true, and his maskless, coughing supporters will cheer and blame the Democrats. Sounds like a bummer, no?

Thank God there’s another option. It is, of course, to vote for Biden. In addition to empathy and decency and levelheadedness, the man possesses a vast amount of nuts-and-bolts policy experience—the kind that really comes in handy during a crisis. He will take the steps necessary to rein in the pandemic. Some of those steps will seem unacceptably inconvenient to Republican snowflakes. They’ll bitch and moan, and it will be tiresome. Some of them will shoot their guns, and that will be terrible. Nonetheless, it’s what will have to happen. When the pandemic is finally over, which probably will take a full year or more, the American people will be ready and able to go to work again. Having benefited from enhanced health coverage and federal assistance with childcare and housing costs, they will find a bustling job market with excellent opportunities in a wide variety of fields, thanks to the push to convert to a green economy. Many years later, people will tell their grandkids, “Yeah, I voted for Biden. He led us out of a very dark place and saved this country.” Perhaps they’ll also be able to tell them, “His running mate, Harris, was the first woman president. She continued the good work that Biden started, and she took it a step beyond.”

The other issue

Is there a bigger brown-noser in Washington today than Mike Pence? When DT picked him, he was an obscure governor known primarily for one thing: trying to oppress the LGBT population of Indiana. Since DT couldn’t care less about religion, and in fact may be the most unchristian president of all time, one might have thought that the supposedly devout Pence would have butted heads with his boss or at least kept a low profile and just stayed out of the way. But no. Despite reportedly being furious over DT’s pussy-grabbing remarks, he has maintained an unusually close working relationship with the president and in all likelihood has advised him on all manner of policy matters. If he’s ever expressed even the slightest misgivings about anything this unholy regime has done, it hasn’t leaked to the press.

There is one additional “accomplishment” that Pence may try to brag about: the wrecking of the federal judiciary. Thanks to DT, we now have hundreds of new judges on the bench, many of them hopelessly inept and unqualified, nearly all of them right-wing extremists with an agenda. And we have two—probably soon to be three—new Supreme Court justices. The two who are already sitting are ideologues. The nominee is a member of a bizarre religious cult and an ideologue. In four years, DT has managed to do what Reagan and Bush the Elder couldn’t do in twelve: set the stage for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. But that’s just the beginning. Civil rights including marriage equality are now threatened, as are any hopes of campaign finance reform or an end to voter suppression. A wide array of environmental laws are in peril, and so is health coverage for at least 20 million Americans. Even basic civil liberties are in jeopardy from this new court. Of course, Pence’s constituency, religious political extremists all, are rejoicing at the prospect.

By the way, if you spot Creepshow in your TV listings later this month, it’s only a movie they’re showing for Halloween. The real creepshow is on live TV tonight at 9 EST.