Angry Trump rails at collapse of attempt to replace ‘Obamacare’, blaming some in his own party

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 12:55am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 1:01am

An angry President Donald Trump railed on Tuesday against dissenters in his party who dashed his months-long effort to dismantle Barack Obama’s landmark health care law.

Trump fired off a series of early morning tweets complaining about how he was “let down” by Democrats “and a few Republicans,” who announced their opposition the previous night to the latest leadership plan to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

With four Republicans now lined up against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s health overhaul, the plan has flatlined in the 100-member chamber, where the party could afford only two defectors in order to get the measure passed.

The dramatic implosion effectively means Trump, who marks his first six months in office later this week, has no major legislative victory under his belt, squandering months of political capital.

Trump had campaigned relentlessly on a pledge to abolish most of the Affordable Care Act, proclaiming at an October campaign rally that it would be “so easy” to immediately repeal and replace the law.

But on Monday night he ran into the uncompromising reality of American politics: even with a president’s party enjoying a majority in both chambers, crafting and passing landmark legislation can be difficult in the US Congress.

The failure suggests an inability by Trump, a political neophyte who often highlighted his lack of connections to establishment Washington, to get members of his own party to fall into line.

McConnell was by no means giving up. He told colleagues on Tuesday that despite “regret” that the effort failed, “I believe we must continue to push forward now.”

In the coming days, McConnell will introduce a bill that repeals Obamacare outright, but with a two-year delay of implementation, in order to allow Congress time to craft a replacement.

Bid to replace Obamacare collapses, dealing heavy blow to Trump, after two more Republican senators walk away

But it was quickly losing support on Tuesday among key Republican senators, including Maine Senator Susan Collins and West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, both of whom said they would not back such an approach.

“I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians,” Capito said in a statement.

An independent analysis of the “repeal-and-delay” approach by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office earlier this year concluded it would lead to 32 million more uninsured Americans over the next decade.

That is some 10 million more than the Senate repeal-and-replace plan that was scuttled Monday night, which was projected to increase the number of uninsured by 22 million by 2026.

At the same time, repealing major planks of Obamacare without a replacement would cause insurance premiums to spike by 20 per cent to 25 per cent next year for Americans who rely on insurance marketplaces, budget analysts concluded.

And premiums would double by 2026, according to the report.

A straight repeal bill passed Congress in 2015. But that was during Obama’s presidency, and Republicans knew they would pay no political price for their votes, as Obama vetoed the measure.

Trump would likely sign such legislation, putting Republicans on the hook for any ensuing disruption to the health care system.

Nevertheless, Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday he and Trump “fully support” McConnell’s decision to move ahead with an Obamacare repeal.

But with a number of Senate Republican moderates voicing concern about how the latest bill could adversely impact millions of people insured through Medicaid, the health coverage programme for the poor and the disabled, it appeared unlikely McConnell’s repeal bid would win enough support.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose chamber passed its own health reform bill in May, appeared to recognise the quandary the Senate was in, but stressed the commitment Republicans have made to voters over the past seven years.

“We’ve got a promise to keep,” he told reporters.

But Ryan hesitated to map out the way forward, because it remained unclear what repeal effort, if any, could pass the Senate.

While Democrats celebrated, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer extended an olive branch to his Republican rivals.

“It’s time to move on. It’s time to start over” on health care, he said.

Schumer called on Republicans to “work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improve our health care system.”