There were two big winners when the House failed to take up the President Donald Trump-backed bill to repeal and replace Obamacare: Barack Obama, who saw Obamacare stand; and Dr. Ben Carson, who was smart enough to pick Housing and Urban Development over Health and Human Services.
Oh, spare us the "Republicans failed to get their health care bill through" media hyperventilation. Trump, said many in the media with unconcealed glee, did not close the deal! The Trump agenda is imperiled! Had it passed, the same pundits would be shredding it as cold and heartless, the moral equivalent of signing your granny up with ISIS just to get her out of the house.
Yes, despite a Republican in the Oval Office and Republican majorities in the Senate and House, Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan couldn't pressure that faction of "free-market Republicans" known as the Freedom Caucus to sign on to their Obamacare replacement. This must be frustrating to the businessman-turned-politician in chief.
Historian Richard E. Neustadt, in "Presidential Power: the Politics of Leadership" writes: "When contemplating General Eisenhower winning the Presidential election, Truman said, 'He'll sit here, and he'll say, 'Do this! Do that!' And nothing will happen. Poor Ike — it won't be a bit like the Army. He'll find it very frustrating.'" No doubt, Trump is experiencing this frustration. Reportedly, Trump recently lamented that real estate is easier than politics.
As for Obamacare, Trump is right to point out that Obamacare is on life support right now, and rising premiums, copays and deductibles were forecast even if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency. Remember, too, that Obamacare was intended to "fail," given the Democrats' real goal of a Canadian-style taxpayer-paid health care. Harry Reid openly said so. The Las Vegas Sun reported in 2013:
"In just about seven weeks, people will be able to start buying Obamacare-approved insurance plans through the new health care exchanges.
"But already, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is predicting those plans, and the whole system of distributing them, will eventually be moot.
"Reid said he thinks the country has to 'work our way past' insurance-based health care during a Friday night appearance on Vegas PBS' program 'Nevada Week in Review.'
"'What we've done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we're far from having something that's going to work forever,' Reid said.
"When then asked by panelist Steve Sebelius whether he meant ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: 'Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.'"
Former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean also said the end game is the so-called "public option." During the 2008 presidential campaign, Dean talked about the health care proposals of Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton: "I think while someday we may end up with a single-payer system, it's clear that we're not going to do it all at once, so I think both candidates' health care plans are a big step forward."
Obama, then a state senator from Illinois, said: "I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer, universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its gross national product on health care, cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. ... A single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. That's what I'd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we've got to take back the White House, we've got to take back the Senate, and we've got to take back the House." And later then-presidential candidate Obama reiterated his stance, that if "starting from scratch" he'd have a single-payer system.
One more thing about Trump's new neighborhood, Washington, D.C. Trump talks about "draining the swamp" of the special-interest groups that have the city crawling with lobbyists. But the First Amendment recognizes the "right to redress grievances." This means lobbying. Big government means a big swamp that attracts those who seek to influence legislation and regulation to their benefit. Indeed, businesses have a fiduciary obligation to ensure that a given measure benefits them or that its potential harm be minimized. If we don't want lobbyists buzzing around, give them nothing to lobby about.
Welcome, Mr. President. You're not in New York anymore.
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.