How Donald Trump Just Handed 2018 to Democrats

Trump’s Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” attitude with regard to healthcare might just be what Democrats need to take care control in 2018 and beyond.

With the Senate Affordable Care Act repeal and replace officially bill dead in the chamber, the president weighed in on the status of one of his major campaign promises Tuesday, and has decided to take a tough negotiating stance with Senate Democrats and moderate Republicans; explicitly calling for the Republicans who backed the repeal effort, after seven years of campaigning to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to let the healthcare law and the exchanges it established collapse under its own weight. After which the president claims Democrats will be begging to come back to the negotiating table and get the the fifty plus votes needed to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

While this tough talk might have seemed cool in the world of New York real estate, healthcare is a different matter entirely. It’s people and their family’s lives that is at issue, not just another casino or golf course. Democrats, if they are wise and opportunistic — and there’s a lot of evidence to suggest they aren’t — should capitalize on the president’s comments to show his level of indifference to the people who are genuinely having a difficult time under the the Affordable Care Act as it has been implemented.

Look, ObamaCare is not perfect, the bill that would eventually become the Affordable Care Act started out much stronger than it eventually morphed into when Obama signed it into law. Part of that was the result of trying to win over Blue Dog Democrats, which stripped the bill and even the conversation of many of its more progressive initiatives, and some of it was simply flawed political strategy on the part of Democrats not wanting to repeat “HillaryCare” in the 90s. Say nothing of the fact that while the Supreme Court ultimately upheld the Affordable Care Act, stripping the Medicare expansion requirement and making it optional for states also fundamentally changed the way the law was executed, and led to many people between stuck between the gaps of making too much money to qualify for traditional Medicare but too little to make the subsidies that were available very helpful. Democrats would do well to acknowledge much more forcefully, that while the law has done a lot of good, there is still a lot more to do to get the American healthcare system where it is needs to be.

With regard to why Democrats have not helped Mitch McConnell push the Better Care Reconciliation Act over the 50 vote threshold, Democrats have fundamental disagreements with Republicans (the handful of Republicans that actually want to improve it and not just hell bent on implementing a ideological fantasy that has never been shown to actually work) on how to improve the nation’s healthcare system. It is just not realistic to expect Senate Democrats to go along with a plan that seeks to eliminate pre-existing condition coverage or defund Planned Parenthood. That being said, could an actually plan that includes both Democrats and Republican ideas emerge? Sure, however, it’s unlikely that Donald Trump will be the one at the helm to make it happen, and the current Republican leadership in both chambers do not seem inclined on actually making the system better for Americans merely showing that they have done something.

The problem for Trump though is, as much as he might like to deny it, the problems with the ACA are his problems now too. And to call for just standing on the sidelines and doing nothing, while premiums continue to rise, insurers continue to leave the marketplace, and individuals Americans are unable to actually access the care they need is not only unpresidential — which is something Trump has never had a problem being — but also deeply problematic when it comes to his views of his role as chief executive. As President of the United States, you do not get to choose what issues you tackle, and to deal with them when you feel like it, you just have to deal with whatever comes at you.

Donald Trump fundamentally does not understand the job he campaigned for, and today’s statement underscores that even more so than usual, given that if Republicans follow through on his negotiating tactic actual people’s lives will get hurt while he waits and does nothing. Trump has demonstrated time and time again that he does not care about the actual policy details, merely scoring a win, and the actual sausage making process of moving legislation through Congress or actually running the Executive Branch could not be further from his mind. Today we can confirm that he does not actually care about how people are affected either.

In his previous private life as a real estate mogul and branding expert, these traits were probably beneficial to him. Trump’s claim to fame was never actually being good at anything meaningful, but rather merely branding himself and his brand really well and taking advantage of bankruptcy laws. As his ventures, from meats to casinos, failed the Trump organization could declare Bankruptcy, screw over the people who he owed money to, and move onto the next soon-to-be failed venture. As a businessman, it’s his money, he can waste it however he wants; however, the presidency is something different. You cannot just walk away from issue, and you certainly cannot just move onto something like themed weeks, and expect that people will not notice.

This is why businesses and governments are different things, when its your own money you can take whatever risks you want; however, when its people’s lives, and whether or not they are able to get life-saving drugs for example, the situation demands a greater appreciation for the consequences of your actions, which is something Donald Trump has never really much cared about. Trump wants to treat his presidency like has his businesses, and for that we should be all scared.

Democrats lost their control of the legislative branches soon after passing the Affordable Care Act, so the party never had the opportunity to see how the law, after its modifications, was executed and implemented, and then respond to it with passing meaningful reforms that stabilized the exchanges, slowed down the pace of premiums increases, and ensured that people were actually able to access the care they were required to purchase. But that was then, and this is now, Republicans campaign on being able to deliver, and the voters collectively gave them full control of the Executive and Legislative branches of government to see that through, and the GOP has failed at pretty much every opportunity.

It’s encumbered on Democrats now to demonstrate what actual governing looks like in the minority. Drop focusing on Russia so much. Sure, where there is smoke there is fire; however, for the most part we know where all the dots are, if they will connect, leave it to the various intelligence committees and special prosecutors to uncover that in due time. Right now Americans are concerned about healthcare, jobs, and stagnant wage growth. All of which made many independents flock to Donald Trump, but for which the president’s actual proposals — of the few that his administration has provided some level of detail over — would not help, and in many cases make worse.

Democrats should get to work on drafting an Affordable Care Stabilization Act, a bill which would address the specific shortcomings of ObamaCare, and one that puts the law and its exchanges on a path to sustainability. This would actually give voters some meaningful contrast between Donald Trump Marie Antoinette’s level of indifference and a political party that actually cares about improving the system.

The president’s statements are either indifferent or cruel. To advocate using the economic or medical suffering of people as political leverage to get what you want is revolting, what’s more, it has been shown that it is largely his base that would be disproportionately negatively affected by his negotiating position makes it all the more upsetting. Democrats are now in a position to present a clear juxtaposition between the two parties, one which at least wants to try to make further improvement to the system, and the other than wants to use destitution as a political tool to enact their own laws, of which they care little about.