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Voices: Trump’s Obamacare ‘repeal and replace’ revival is just a distraction from his revenge plans

Former President Donald Trump  (REUTERS)
Former President Donald Trump (REUTERS)

Remember “repeal and replace?”

For almost a decade, that was the mantra of the various Republicans in Washington who’d tasked themselves with the mission of eradicating Obamacare, the signature accomplishment of the nation’s first Black president.

And when Donald Trump moved into the White House along with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate in 2017, it looked as if this goal was within reach, even though it was never quite clear what the GOP would do to fulfill the “replace” part of their plan.

Similarly, it was never 100 per cent clear what the Republican objection to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was, particularly since the concept behind the legislation — mandating the purchase of private health insurance coverage in lieu of a government-run health care system like the NHS — was birthed in a GOP-aligned think tank and first implemented by then-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney years before he and Mr Obama squared off in the 2012 general election.

To make a long story short, neither the “repeal” nor “replace” ever came together after the “repeal” part of the plan died at the hands (or more accurately, the downturned thumb) of the late Arizona Senator John McCain during one late July vote in 2017.

But now, more than six years after the Vietnam-era war hero made himself a hero to Democrats (and people who appreciate affordable health insurance), Mr Trump has singlehandedly revived the long-dead, now quite unpopular GOP pipe dream of ending what has become a quite popular bit of legislation.

Seemingly from nowhere, the ex-president posted on his Truth Social platform about how “the cost of Obamacare” is “out of control” and “not good Healthcare”.

He added that he is now “seriously looking at alternatives,” harkening back to how Mr Trump frequently promised to unveil his own health care plan “in two weeks” during his presidency (spoiler alert: it never happened).

What prompted him to revive a policy proposal that is almost universally acknowledged as an area where Democrats have unquestioned trust from a large majority of voters? No idea.

Is he any closer to coming up with a replacement plan than he was during his presidency? Nope.

But that didn’t stop the press from reporting on it breathlessly as if Mr Trump was simply offering a legitimate policy proposal like a normal presidential candidate.

Now, at this point you might ask: What’s wrong with that?

Well, dear reader, I’ll tell you. At this point, there’s really no point in covering anything resembling a policy proposal coming from Donald Trump or his presidential campaign.

Sure, the ex-president has released a bevy of statements outlining what his campaign calls “Agenda47” — what he’d do if voters return him to the presidency in next year’s general election — along with a series of direct-to-camera videos.

There’s an underlying theme to all of them, one he has continuously expounded upon in almost every public appearance he makes: Vengeance.

Mr Trump’s bid for a second bite at the presidential apple isn’t so much about what he thinks he can do to improve the lives of the average American as much as it is about his unyielding desire to hurt the people who’ve slighted or harmed him, and the people who his supporters blame for their lots in life.

He wants to decimate the nonpartisan civil service that has been a core part of how the US has avoided an incompetent, graft-ridden bureaucracy over the last century-and-a-half, with the end goal of ensuring that no one will tell him “no” when he demands that he be permitted to use the nation’s law enforcement and national security apparatus against his enemies.

Even today, he spent his morning posting attacks on the prosecutors currently pursuing him in various jurisdictions, and for good measure called out the CEO of Comcast, Brian Roberts, for the apparently unpardonable sin of running the company that owns and operates the MSNBC cable network.

He complained that the progressive-ish news channel “uses FREE government approved airwaves, and yet it is nothing but a 24-hour hit job on Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party for purposes of ELECTION INTERFERENCE”.

Let’s stop there, dear reader, for a quick fact-check.

MSNBC uses no “airwaves” because it isn’t broadcast over the air and therefore isn’t subject to the same licensing procedures as say, your local television station. Second, MSNBC does not run “24-hour” anything because it repeats its 9pm to midnight schedule twice after Stephanie Ruhle closes out the day’s programming with The 11th Hour. And what Mr Trump calls “ELECTION INTERFERENCE” is actually journalism.

He closed out his rant by complaining how the NBC News-owned cable network is “the world’s biggest political contribution to the Radical Left Democrats who, by the way, are destroying our Country” and suggested that the US government “should come down hard on them and make them pay for their illegal political activity”.

“Much more to come, watch!” he added.

It’s that sort of thing — shuttering critical media outlets and punishing those who run them, not any return to “repeal and replace” — that forms the core of Mr Trump’s platform. It’s exactly what he plans to do should he ever wield the power of the presidency once more.