‘Let Oba­macare fail’

Trump de­fi­ant af­ter an­other health-care de­feat

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

U.S. Pres­i­dent Donald Trump de­clared Tues­day it’s time to “let Oba­macare fail” af­ter the lat­est GOP health care plan crashed and burned in the Se­nate, a stun­ning fail­ure for the pres­i­dent, Repub­li­can leader Mitch McCon­nell and a party that has vowed for years to abol­ish the law.

In a head-spin­ning se­ries of de­vel­op­ments, rank-and-file Repub­li­can sen­a­tors turned on McCon­nell and Trump for the third time in a row, deny­ing the votes to move for­ward with a plan for a straight-up re­peal of “Oba­macare.”

This time, it was three GOP women — Su­san Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Shel­ley Moore Capito of West Vir­ginia — who de­liv­ered the death blow. All had been shut out of McCon­nell’s ini­tial all-male work­ing group on health care.

McCon­nell, who could af­ford to lose only two votes in the nar­rowly di­vided Se­nate, had turned to the re­peal-only bill af­ter his ear­lier re­pealand-re­place mea­sure was re­jected on Mon­day. That had fol­lowed the fail­ure of an ear­lier ver­sion of the bill last month.

The suc­ces­sive de­feats made clear that de­spite seven years of prom­ises to re­peal for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Af­ford­able Care Act, Repub­li­cans ap­par­ently can­not de­liver. None­the­less, McCon­nell in­sisted he would move for­ward with a vote on his mea­sure to re­peal the law, ef­fec­tive in two years, with a prom­ise to work — along with Democrats — to re­place it in the mean­time.

The vote could come as soon as to­day. It ap­pears doomed to fail, but GOP lead­ers want to put law­mak­ers on record on the is­sue and move on.

At the White House, Trump ap­peared to rec­og­nize de­feat, at least for the mo­ment, while in­sist­ing he bore none of the blame.

“I think we’re prob­a­bly in that po­si­tion where we’ll just let Oba­macare fail,” the pres­i­dent said. “We’re not go­ing to own it. I’m not go­ing to own it. I can tell you that the Repub­li­cans are not go­ing to own it. We’ll let Oba­macare fail and then the Democrats are go­ing to come to us and they’re go­ing to say, ‘How do we fix it?”’

De­spite the cur­rent law’s prob­lems, most health care ex­perts do not be­lieve it is at im­me­di­ate risk of outright fail­ure, and Demo­cratic co­op­er­a­tion to ad­just the law is far from as­sured.

Nor does it ap­pear likely that Repub­li­cans can es­cape own­ing the prob­lems with the law and the health care sys­tem over­all, now that they con­trol the House, Se­nate and White House, partly on the strength of cam­paign­ing against the law.

“They seem to have this no­tion that they can be a ma­jor­ity party, and have con­trol of the White House, and not be re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing down the health care sys­tem,” said Demo­cratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illi­nois. “It doesn’t work that way.”

Asked how he would jus­tify the GOP’s fail­ure on health care to vot­ers, McCon­nell re­sponded: “Well, we have a new Supreme Court jus­tice” — sug­gest­ing in­ac­tion on health care would be for­given be­cause of that suc­cess along with some reg­u­la­tory roll-backs.

AP PHOTO

A U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice of­fi­cer gives a warn­ing speak­ing through a bull­horn to a group of black min­is­ters gath­ered to protest on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton Tues­day de­mand­ing Congress to “re­ject both the im­moral bud­get pro­posed by the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion and the equally un­just health care bill that the Se­nate may have a pro­ce­dural vote on in the com­ing weeks.”

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