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.

Agent of (great) regression

20. He wants to bring back the bad old days

“Make America Great Again.” We’ve all seen it on the hats and the signs. By the time the 2016 presidential campaign entered its final weeks, those four words had already sparked much controversy. Some of us wondered how anyone possessing both a brain and a heart could possibly present such a phrase without intending it to be ironical. Others dismissed it as a mere slogan—a bit silly, perhaps, but essentially harmless. Four years later, our worst fears are realized. It means exactly what we were afraid it did: DT intends to return our country to a less evolved state.

It’s well underway already. The hard-won progress we made over the past century is eroding. The steady headway the nation had made on matters of race is endangered now. White supremacists, who outside of certain limited contexts had learned to shut the hell up and keep their heads down, have seen in the president a kindred spirit and are primed for battle. And it’s policy matters as well as social matters that are at stake: with an extremist-majority Supreme Court a near certainty, nothing we had come to take as settled law is off the table. Various civil rights laws, including the Voting Rights Act in its entirety, are under threat. So is the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education. It seems that would suit DT fine. He wants to return the US to the Jim Crow era.

LGBT rights are at risk. Marriage equality is almost certain to be challenged before the court, and it seems probable that it will be weakened. SCOTUS’s recent surprise ruling on Title IX, which outlawed certain kinds of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, will almost certainly be superseded by one or more rulings that undermine its broad applicability. That would suit DT fine, too. He has made clear his disdain for transgender Americans, and he wouldn’t mind if the US returned to the pre-Stonewall period.

Women’s rights are under threat, not only from Title IX challenges but from a raft of other initiatives. Roe v. Wade will likely be eviscerated, killing some women outright and dooming a vast number of others, as well as their children, to lives of abject misery. It would also set a new, dangerous precedent, reducing women’s ability for self-determination and setting the stage for a return of state-sanctioned patriarchy. Surely that would make DT ecstatic.

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is liable to be overturned, throwing 20 million Americans to the wolves in the midst of a pandemic. Programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, WIC, and Social Security are liable to be cut. It will be just like the 1930s again, except all the out-of-work Americans will be carrying pay-as-you-go phones as they stand in the soup lines. Or perhaps DT will find a way to outlaw soup lines. Maybe ICE could round up anyone without a job and detain them somewhere out of sight.

Even if DT’s pick to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg is confirmed, which is a near certainty, all of these regressive developments can be neutralized or even averted entirely—but only if DT does not have a second term.

Great or not

Greatness is both vague and subjective, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion of what it means. In times of rapid change, the past is always alluring. The past quarter-century has involved change happening at a pace unseen since the Industrial Revolution (if then), so it’s unsurprising that many people feel drawn to what they nostalgically think of as simpler, better times. Great or not, there is little doubt that some aspects of the U.S. were once better than they are now, at least for many people. There was less polarization, more common ground. Facts were generally accepted as facts, when the evidence to support them was available. Expressions of hostility and hatred toward minorities were more universally condemned. On issues ranging from gun control to civil liberties to the environment, meaningful advancements had taken place. For most of us, even among the more oppressed, hope for better times burned brightly, and it was justified.

So it would appear that DT is a total liar, even down to his simpleminded slogans. With assistance from his Republican cohorts, he has taken whatever greatness we had and systematically dismantled it. Another four years of his handiwork will ensure it is gone forever.