Who’s to Blame? Trump Blasts Democrats For Collapse of Obamacare Repeal Efforts

“You can disagree with Democrat accomplishments, as well as their platform, however it’s unreasonable to expect Democrats to vote for or participate in legislative efforts to undue their own accomplishments.” 

Senate Republican efforts to reform health care have failed three times now, and seem to be on life support, if not already in the morgue. Interestingly, President Trump is refusing to shoulder any blame himself, and deflecting failure away from the Republican Part as well. At a public appearance at the White House, the President said, “”We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”

The comments come after the second and third round of efforts to repeal former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act  failed due to revolts within the Republican Senate ranks. First, two conservative Senators pulled out of efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, believing that the Republican alternative still had too much big government. Next, efforts by Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to repeal Obamacare without a replacement collapsed within a matter of hours.  Three GOP senators pulled out, arguing that repealing without a replacement would harm too many Americans.

On one hand, the Office of the President actually has little direct authority over how legislation is crafted. That is ultimately the job of the Senate and House. However, Trump’s unwillingness to own the defeat seems to fly in the face of his previous criticisms of the Obama administration. Trump has previously stated that leadership is ultimately responsible for pretty much everything.

While the President may not have a lot of direct influence, he does have a lot of indirect influence. A president can threaten vetoes, rally up the public, and otherwise pressure Congress to get legislation to his desk. Trump was making efforts, indeed he was dining with several senators when news first broke that two senators, Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) wouldn’t support repeal and replace, putting the kibosh to that.

Further, Trump previously blasted President Obama for blaming Republicans when Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and White House for two years. Currently, the Republican Party has control of both the House and Senate, and do not need a single Democrat vote to push through health care reform. Health care reform efforts did not collapse because of Democrat resistance, but instead because Republicans themselves could not come to an agreement.

Blaming Democrats is a risky approach for Trump. The Republican Party made no efforts to reach across the aisle to attempt to find a bipartisan solution for reforming health care. This should come as little surprise, Obama’s Affordable Care Act was one of the signature accomplishments of the Democratic administration. Meanwhile, even though “Obamacare” appears to be unraveling, the health care program has helped millions secure health care coverage.

Republican repeal and replace efforts go against everything that Democrats have accomplished as well as their party platform. You can disagree with Democrat accomplishments, as well as their platform, however it’s unreasonable to expect Democrats to vote for or participate in legislative efforts to undue their own accomplishments.

Regardless of who should shoulder the blame, American health care is at a perilous crossroads. Obamacare achieved some notable accomplishments, ending discrimination against preexisting conditions, and helping millions secure health insurance. Yet massive cracks in the program have emerged and it’s at risk of collapse. Trump has suggested letting the program collapse, but if so it could disrupt insurance markets and hurt numerous Americans.

Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is an OpsLens Contributor and political consultant. Brinker has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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