Saturday, March 25, 2017

It Would Have Been a Catastrophic Victory

The failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) has been covered--gleefully---as a defeat for President Trump, House leadership, and Republican governance in general, but the outcome was foreseeable. There were too many disputes about what should be in the "replace" portion of the bill, and, frankly, the one-sidedness of media coverage made the mountain too high for politicians with an eye on 2018.

No, this is not another leftwing-media-are-biased post because the Republicans must shoulder the principal blame, but, dear reader, what do you remember most about the original coverage of the debate in 2009 and 2010? It was individual, heartbreaking stories about people who couldn't get coverage and who went bankrupt trying to care for a loved one.

The result was a government health care system that is inefficient, didn't drive down costs, didn't achieve universal coverage, didn't allow patients to keep their doctors, and had numerous other flaws. Yet while the Republicans debated this month, what were the media stories about? It was individual, heartbreaking stories about people who may lose their coverage and may go bankrupt if Obamacare were repealed.

One doesn't go changing a system where hundreds of billions of dollars are spent without some good, innocent people being harmed. In 2017 we would have been treated to stories about people who lost due to Obamacare's repeal. The difference was that in 2013 we didn't hear about people who lost their doctor and/or their insurance plan because of Obamacare. Unfair, but that's the media landscape.

President Trump is viewing this week's event as a setback, while others are making it seem as his Waterloo. I'm inclined to think it is a setback that he should be grateful for.

Peggy Noonan: [bold added]
Fatal? No. Damaging and diminishing? Yes. It is an embarrassment too for Speaker Paul Ryan...

Seven years ago, when ObamaCare was on its way to passing with not a single Republican vote, I called it a catastrophic victory. It wouldn’t work; the government would not be able to execute; it was a Rube Goldberg machine. It was a bill created not by visionaries or political masters but by technocrats—and the worst kind of technocrat, the one who sees himself as a secret visionary. On top of that the Democrats would always own it, and when the program failed, Republicans would have no motivation to help them save it.

That is what RyanCare or TrumpCare would have been if it had passed: a catastrophic victory. No Democratic support, an opaque and impossible-to-understand bill, one that is complex and complicated, one that would be unpopular back home. And created by technocrats who think themselves visionaries.
Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams has a different take on why this is really good news for Donald Trump [bold]:
In the 2D world, where everything is just the way it looks, and people are rational, Trump and Ryan failed to improve healthcare. But in the 3D world of persuasion, Trump just had one of the best days any president ever had: He got promoted from Hitler to incompetent. And that promotion effectively defused the Hitler-hallucination bomb that was engineered by the Clinton campaign.
It's much more advantageous for people to think you are incompetent instead of one of the most evil persons in history. Not only are opponents willing to talk to you, they want to talk because they can take advantage of you. The Trump turnaround begins today.

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