The election results showed the American people foolishly repudiated the Democratic Party by not only electing Donald Trump as president, but also by not voting against Republicans running in Congressional races. When Trump takes office next year, he will do so with Republicans holding majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. This has, to the detriment of the entire nation, emboldened the Republican leadership to tear down the social safety next which was expanded under President Obama’s administration.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) was a guest on Fox News and made it known he intends to use his party’s power to dismantle Medicare citing that the program has, “serious problems.” Ryan went on to spew Republican talking points to attempt to justify the anticipated gutting of a program which provides funding for medical services to millions of Americans. Ryan said:
When Obamacare became Obamacare, Obamacare rewrote Medicare, rewrote Medicaid, so if you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, you have to address those issues as well. What people don’t realize is that Medicare is going broke, that Medicare is going to have price controls. Because of Obamacare, Medicaid is in fiscal straits. So you have to deal with those issues if you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Medicare has got some serious problems because of Obamacare. Those things are part of our plan to replace Obamacare.
Ryan went on to talk about the “Independent Payment Advisory Board”, which was created under the Obamacare law whose purpose is to recommend areas where the government can save money by reducing payments to Medicare providers. The curious aspect is the Independent Payment Advisory Board’s powers do not kick in until 2017, meaning if Republicans wish to take advantage of the board’s power they will not be able to fully repeal Obamacare.
President-elect Trump seems to be breaking with Ryan’s plan of fully repealing and replacing Obamacare. Trump visited the White House for his first-ever face to face meeting with President Obama, and the two discussed many topics including heath care coverage. Obama suggested to Trump that he not entirely eliminate the program, as it has helped millions of America retain medical coverage when they previously were unable to gain coverage. During the visit Trump said, “Either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced. I told him (Obama) I will look at his suggestions, and out of respect, I will do that.”
Trump’s after-election statement is completely contradictory to his previous campaign promises as he said he “likes very much” the health care law’s provision that prevents insurance providers from removing insurees because of pre-existing conditions. One wonders how Trump will balance his new rhetoric against his campaign rhetoric where he said in late July, “We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare.”
Many Republican supporters of Trump ignorantly believe Obamacare is a bane upon their existence, while not knowing the program has saved 10s of thousands of lives while saving billions of dollars in the process. Trump’s plan to appease his base while keeping various provisions of the law will be a tightrope balancing act, especially if he will have Speaker Ryan breathing down his neck. The tension between the two has been well documented. Trump called Ryan a “weak and ineffective leader” less than a month ago. Ryan refused to fully embrace Trump during the campaign, and Trump is known to hold a grudge and seek redemption against those who he believes have slighted him.
The unpredictability of Trump leaves one at a loss for what, if anything, he will actually do, but considering Trump’s track record whatever he does is almost certainly not going to be of benefit to the American people.
Lou Colagiovanni is an investigative journalist living in Las Vegas who specializes in politics and crime. His work has been highlighted all over the world and he is regularly featured on television and radio.