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After blustering that Republicans would be the new “party of health care” by tearing down the Affordable Care Act in court, President Trump is backing down — again. The diagnosis, offered by his own party: It’s just not politically viable.
Trump has repeatedly promised that Republicans have a new health care plan, and the president doubled down in a series of tweets late Monday night. He once again said Republicans were developing a comprehensive health care plan that “will always support pre-existing conditions” and will somehow cost consumers less than President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
But Republicans have shown in the past that they’re not planning to do any of that, and Democrats are averse to passing any Republican-led plans. Obamacare is also pretty popular among voters. So, Trump said, Congress will wait to vote on health care until after the 2020 election.
“The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare. In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than Obamacare,” Trump wrote in a tweet late Monday night. “Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House.”
The tweets reflected a pretty remarkable cool-down from last week, when Trump’s Department of Justice dove headfirst into backing a lawsuit — apparently against the advice of Attorney General William Barr — that would tear down the law with no clear replacement. That move also caught Republicans by surprise and led to some moderate Republicans like Maine Sen. Susan Collins pleading for the administration to back down. Trump reportedly thought the lawsuit would fail anyway, according to Axios.
Finally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated last week that he wasn’t too hot on taking down Obamacare after a testy election, driven by health care, that won Democrats the House back. One of the people Trump appointed to come up with a new plan, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, even acknowledged Sunday that it’d be “tough to get something done” as long as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi controlled her rank.
But the long-shot lawsuit against Obamacare could still wreck the law ahead of 2020. There’s a chance the litigation could make its way to the newly conservative Supreme Court, where the justices would hear the shaky argument that the whole law should be dropped because Republicans got rid of a key provision: a tax called the individual mandate that penalized people who failed to carry an Obamacare plan.
If the Supreme Court were to declare the law unconstitutional, there’s currently no plan to replace it.
Cover image: President Donald Trump speaks at the 2019 Prison Reform Summit and First Step Act Celebration in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)