Many of us remember the multiple jaw-dropping moments in the run up to the election when candidate Trump announced that, “Only I can do it.” Two facts were immediately apparent; first, that he sincerely believed that he could do it and, second, no one else thought he could do it alone. This past week we had an undeniable affirmation that the first assumption was false and the second one was correct.
Having staked his yet-to-be-authenticated powerfulness, it was, perhaps, a rude personal awakening that the emperor has no clothes. Undeterred, the proclamation was made that it was the opposition party’s entire fault, never mind that the party now in power had spent no time on how to improve/amend the Affordable Care.
For seven years they had ballyhooed its repeal without offering anything to replace it. The President then reversed course and said the conservative wing of the Republican Party was to blame. It is a credit to Congress that they held together in avoiding a bill that would have been ruinous to millions of Americans who have been covered by ACA.
Are there any lessons to be learned? Nearly everyone in a position of power recognizes that the ACA has many flaws; even President Obama has been quick to state that. Can it be fixed? More about that later.
Has the President learned anything? Who can say, although he seems to have used the same strategy applied to his many failed private projects: walk away without a backward glance and move on to the next item. In this case it’s tax reform, a formidable target that has not had a successful attempt at adjustment in three decades.
The understatement of the failed repeal of ACA has to be Trump’s rueful announcement several weeks ago that “health care is complex.” Just wait until he bumps up against reducing taxes for the wealthy and increasing defense spending at an historic pace!
If any of these problems were simple they would have been solved centuries ago. That raises the question of whether they can be improved under any circumstance. We can say with confidence that it will take a broad consensus which may not even include the executive branch to even get started on solutions.
We have developed a mentality that we want everything to work flawlessly, with no inconvenience to us, no outlandish tax expense, and without government control. That would be the ultimate free lunch . . . and it will not happen, not in health care, or any other segment of public concern.
Universal health care, which everyone favors, cannot be sustained in any system without single payer government control, an idea that is anathema to most of the citizenry. The alternate choice is to continue down the unsustainable path of the last half century: free enterprise, and we have all seen how well that functions.
We have just had our first dose of reality, of which there will be many to follow. As unpalatable as the “complex” solutions to health care will be there are many more that have undreamed of consequences if we continue to think that anything less than a unified effort can solve such horrendous problems.
If Congress realizes they are in a position to orchestrate the dissolution of the Founding Fathers’ dream and take several steps back, perhaps they can stop the suicidal infighting and gain control of our country.
It should be obvious that only by mutually shared sacrifice can anything be accomplished. The President cannot do it, Congress cannot do it alone, and certainly without the backing of the public, the government cannot do it. The terrifying question is can the nation as a whole find the will to approach these seemly insurmountable issues. It will take more than inflammatory rhetoric of which there seems to be no limit.