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Friday, January 18 , 2019, 10:29 am | Fair 60º


Susan Estrich: His Way or the Highway

What a leader. 

Faced with the certain defeat of his effort to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, our fearless leader did not attempt to compromise, negotiate or even mend the program that has allowed millions of Americans access to health care. 

No, no acts of responsible leadership. But then, what would you expect?

A childish ultimatum to members of his own party, of course: My way or the highway.

You can either vote for my bill or give up on making any reforms at all to Obamacare. You'll be blamed for anything that goes wrong.

What a guy.

Republicans used to vote to repeal Obamacare on a regular basis, back when former President Barack Obama was in the White House. Knowing they could rely on Obama's veto, their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act were purely symbolic.

But with no one in the White House to check them (and allow them to continue this silly game), with a clear pathway to actually make whatever changes they wanted to the health care law, they faltered.

A number of Republicans were legitimately concerned with the flaws in the Trump Plan. And as I write this, news has just broken that the vote on the American Health Care Plan has been canceled.

So, did Trump try to address those concerns? Did it occur to him that some members of his own party had been dealing with this issue for a lot longer than him, and might even have something to add?

Of course not. He just threatens and jousts.

But here is the uglier truth. 

Has Donald Trump ever worried that he didn't have the money to take a sick child to the doctor? Of course not. He doesn't have a clue what it's like for millions of Americans.

Heck, my guess is that Trump has never even sat in a waiting room for more than 30 seconds to get the care he wants, necessary or not. 

And what does Trump pay for the best health care in the world now? Not a red cent, my friends. You and I pay for his health care; so it's no wonder he doesn't care if tens of millions of Americans lose theirs.

So why should he? He clearly doesn't care if a sick child doesn't get care, if a frightened pregnant woman loses the only prenatal care she had from Planned Parenthood.

These people ought to just do what Trump would: Borrow a few million from Daddy to get started; leave investors in the dust; make best friends with his bankruptcy lawyer (whose experience getting Trump out of trouble and leaving everyone else holding the bag obviously qualified him to be ambassador to Israel, even if he compared liberal Jews such as myself to Nazi collaborators. The perfect diplomat).

But if he doesn't care about people's health — which he clearly does not — maybe Trump might care that the people he is going to hurt the most are not the ones who voted against him.

Big news, Trump: The well-educated, middle-class Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton will be just fine, thank you. Most of us have insurance through employers. Nobody's going to take our health insurance away.

I'm so lucky that I have two full-time jobs and therefore two full health insurance policies. You should see the smiles when I present those cards from Blue Cross and Cigna. Doctors are happy to provide me with the best tests money can buy.

But Trump voters? It's clear who the losers would be if Trump had succeeded in dismantling the Affordable Care Act: those struggling folks who heard his simple message and thought this loud-mouthed billionaire in the bankruptcy business actually cared about them. 

I'm grateful for Republicans with more integrity, compassion and decency than "their" president. Thanks to the 30 or so of them who refused to pass the slapdash American Health Care Act, millions of Americans no longer have to worry about losing their health care.

They've taught Trump a lesson. Here's hoping he retains it.

Susan Estrich is a best-selling author, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to contact her or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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