One of the greatest elements of the Trump presidency so far has been the absence of President Barack Obama. Obama’s exit from the national stage was a relief to those of us who thought his policy prescriptions awful and his rhetoric worse – Obama helped polarize the country by constantly impugning the motives of his political opponents, attacking character rather than policy.
Well, he’s back.
And he’s worse than ever.
On Thursday evening, Obama published a long screed on Facebook tearing into the Senate health care bill. Now, there are plenty of problems with the health care bill, as I detailed yesterday. But Obamacare paved the way for all of them by radically expanding Medicaid and destroying the individual insurance market, all while blowing out the debt.
But according to Obama, if you pare around the edges – which is essentially what this version of Trumpcare does – you are an emissary an evil, a harbinger of doom. But don’t worry – Obama’s only writing about it because he wants to unite us. Or something.
He begins in the sanctimonious fashion we’ve all missed so little:
Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.
I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.
We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain – we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.
Our politics are divided thanks largely to Obama. He fought for Obamacare because you knew that it would put an entirely new generation of Americans on a pathway to government dependency while utterly rewriting the health care market in a centralized direction. So it wasn’t all out of some form of misguided generosity. But Obama continues:
Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.
Well, no. Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote. Not one. More Obama:
And you made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition – we made that a thing of the past.
Actually, you threw millions of people onto Medicaid, forced people into part-time work, and dramatically elevated health care costs for millions of Americans. You mandated that people buy health insurance and punished them if they did not. You increased taxes and did not improve health outcomes by any available metric.
But according to Obama, Obamacare is glorious.
He continues by ripping Trumpcare:
The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.
Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.
It’s odd to criticize the bill as a “massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America,” when all that Trumpcare does is allow people to keep their own money. The status quo is not redistributionism. It is property rights. Obamacare was actually a massive transfer of wealth at the point of government gun from the healthy to the sick, from the young to the old, and from the middle class to the poor. But if you tweak it, you’re Satan, apparently.
Then Obama reels off the list of horribles:
I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?
Actually, the new system is designed to make fewer people dependent on Medicaid by allowing states to come up with more creative solutions and subsidizing people who can’t afford health insurance. And Trumpcare doesn’t actually allow “unlimited bills” – right now, insurance companies aren’t working within Obamacare at all thanks to its unaffordable insanity. To pretend that parents have been saved from the scourge of medical cost for child cancer care under Obamacare is pure fiction. But again, this was always about Obama and the Democrats attempting to castigate Republicans as evil:
After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.
If Obama is right, the debate isn’t about one group of people who want sick, poor people to have coverage and another who hate sick, poor people. The debate is about a group of people who think that centralized government can control your health care decisions better than you can, and that bankrupting insurance companies is somehow morally justified, and another group of people who think that you are best qualified to make your own health decisions, and that free market competition makes health care more available.
But Obama’s character never changes: in his own mind, he’s a saint, and all who disagree must burn.