President Trump still has a way to stave off political disaster.
As Sigmund Freud first warned, when virtually everything one person does leads another to the same compulsive conclusion, one may assume this is very important to those with the fixation and that if they get the chance they will likely do what they can to carry-out their obsession.
The first warning was a New York Daily News editorial on March 20, 2016, titled “Impeach Donald Trump: It’s not too early to start,” well before he was even the Republican nominee!
Now, President Trump has fired an FBI director virtually everyone in both parties recognized as unfit to continue in the job and then warned Russia about airplane terrorism — and the reaction is “impeach him.”
This is followed by big-time constitutional experts Laurence Tribe in the Washington Post and Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times preaching the necessity of impeachment.
Slate magazine published a seven-count impeachment indictment against the president: for accepting funds from foreign governments (emoluments), acting in enemy Russia’s interests, obstructing justice by firing James Comey and Sally Yates, intimidating witnesses (Comey), assaulting the judiciary (Judge Gonzalo Curiel), demeaning the integrity of public servants (numerous), and dereliction of duty in not appointing major sub-cabinet officials.
Got the picture?
While one might simply dismiss these as emotionally overwrought, President Andrew Johnson was actually impeached merely for trying to fire his Cabinet, the least controversial executive power. The actual charge makes no difference anyway, though “emolument” sounds serious and would do as well as anything.
Congressional Democrats do not have the votes for impeachment, but the media fracas cannot just be dismissed as irrational noise. Democrats only need a net increase of 26 seats in the House for a majority and Republicans hold 23 seats where Hillary Clinton won the presidential vote. Recent off-year elections in Kansas and Georgia show significant erosion in Republican support, in the former winning by only six points where Trump won by 26 and the latter almost losing in the first round in a district Trump won by only two points but Romney won by 24.
Unfortunately for Republicans, off-year elections are referenda on how well the president is doing. Trump only has support from roughly 40 percent of the public. Ronald Reagan had 42 percent support in 1982 and lost 26 House seats, Bill Clinton had 46 percent in 1994 and lost 54, and Barack Obama had 46 percent and lost 63 seats.
If Democrats win a majority of the House it is absolutely certain they will bring charges — and would receive every Democratic vote for Trump’s impeachment. This history should be a wake-up call for Congressional Republicans and the White House, who are frightened but immobilized simply proceeding with business as usual.
The good news for Republicans is that voters do not share the media obsession with the perfectly legal acts in the Slate indictment. What will determine the 2018 election is Obamacare. People care about their health. This was the political hot potato that decimated House Democrats under Obama and brought the GOP back to power and holds the same potential for Republicans.
The House passed a “repeal and replace” Obamacare bill hoping to cool things down but it passed by only a 217 to 213 vote, with no Democrat support and 20 Republicans voting against. It would end the mandate to purchase health insurance and replace it with higher rates for those who do not keep continuous insurance coverage. It would eliminate many Obamacare tax increases, cut nearly $900 billion from Medicaid and limit its future expansion, and would allow states to seek waivers to charge higher premiums for age and wellness conditions but replace this with separate high-risk coverage for those with uninsurable pre-existing conditions.
Like its predecessor, the bill is extremely complicated and of course is all summarized by the mainstream media as devastating to the poor and the sick. Who has the time to read all of the complex details anyway? The Senate is planning to start its review of Obamacare from scratch without worrying much what is in the House bill, making things even more complicated. Whether the House will pay much attention to a Senate product is problematic.
President Trump keeps insisting that Obamacare is dead from its own internal contradictions, with health insurers refusing to participate or increasing premiums substantially. As Aetna’s recent decision to quit Obamacare proves, he is correct but after two years whatever remains is going to be called Trumpcare whether he likes it or not.
Expecting anything rational to pass the congressional sausage factory is delusional. Mr. Trump’s only solution is to produce a viable replacement by executive regulation alone. President Obama showed the way by overriding the law with delays and exceptions from the beginning.
It can be done. Mandated benefits are a big part of the problem, forcing insurance to pay for relatively inexpensive “preventive” care that should be paid by cash rather than by insurance. Although this costs each individual little, when everyone is reimbursed by insurance the total cost is prohibitive, forcing extremely unpopular high deductibles for serious illnesses. While expensive individually these illnesses do not break the bank since relatively few need these procedures. Restoring rational insurance administratively is simple since, while these benefits are broadly listed in law, the Health and Human Services secretary can limit them.
The other fundamental problem with Obamacare is its enormous increase in Medicaid coverage for those well above the poverty line. President Obama had already granted Medicaid waivers allowing states flexibility and HHS Secretary Tom Price could greatly expand these and turn most regulation over to the states. Many states have risk pools and there are creative ways to enhance them through regulation. Obamacare tax penalties have already been halted through presidential order even though the law is still on the books and HHS has been ordered to minimize other Obamacare regulatory burdens, to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay its rules.”
So President Trump could do enough administratively to eliminate the worst aspects of Obamacare and restore enough rationality to the process to stop the disintegration of the health insurance market and his presidency. Most importantly, he can do it quickly to allow time to calm market fears before the election. Congress simply cannot act in time.
President Trump constantly tweets against Obamacare but often mixes the message with other less essential topics for his survival. He can endure budgets, deficient personnel practices, and controversial social policies, but health will determine his fate. Unless he places it as the number one priority, he will be enfeebled.
Mr. Trump has correctly understood that the mainstream culture and media are the opposition. While his Twitter list is indeed impressive it pales compared to theirs. He must focus on healthcare and get the Republican National Committee and the Congressional campaign committees to begin saturation public relations campaigns to demonstrate the failure of Obamacare and why Trumpcare is better.
Only an enormous public campaign starting right now even has a chance to prevent a massive defeat in 2018.
Otherwise prepare for impeachment, for that is the other side’s plan.