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Trump: Leave Obamacare Alone Until it Collapses!

On December 22, 2001, close in the temporal wake of the successful 9/11/01 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Richard Reid boarded American Airlines flight #63 in Paris, destined for Miami. While the plane was over the Atlantic, Reid attempted to detonate high explosives packed into one of his shoes. The attempt failed, his fellow-passengers were spared.

On December 25, 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutalib boarded KLM flight #558 in Amsterdam bound for Detroit. He attempted to detonate high explosives hidden in his underwear as the flight approached Detroit. A small mid-air fire resulted but the bomb failed to detonate and his fellow-passengers were spared.

I note these two potential disasters, averted mostly by luck, to illustrate an important political point.  Although many Americans remember the carnage of the attacks of 9/11/01, fewer remember these later attacks — despite the possibility of similar fatality numbers, especially if the 2009 flight had crashed over the city of Detroit. Bottom line is that few remember disasters that are prevented while many remember those that are not.

How might this concept about the limited emotive value of prevention inform the increasingly pressing need to repeal and replace the so-called Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)? Here’s how: Trump recently floated the idea that Obamacare should be allowed to collapse on its own before it’s replaced. Why would this be smart? Because many in America don’t know (and won’t know) just how bad Obamacare really is until the same sort of mess it’s caused in Arizona (with huge premium increases, high deductibles and only one insurer in most counties) becomes common across the nation. Such problems will take another year or so to widely manifest themselves– at which time Trump correctly predicts a bipartisan outcry to repeal/replace/fix the law that President Obama seemingly worked so hard against fixing while he was in office. On the other hand, if repeal and replacement is done soon, assuming there is some way to get past a likely filibuster in the Senate, the full stink of Obamacare will not be widely appreciated. Instead “repeal and replace” will be the unjust focus of anger by many who don’t yet know just how bad Obamacare is and/or by those who simply hate Trump.

Trump also knows that never has a long-lasting social program has persisted in America absent bipartisan support. Indeed, Social Security and the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s survived because undoing bipartisan-supported laws is nearly impossible. Plus Trump also knows that a big reason Obamacare can be now be undone is that not a single Republican voted for a law that the then Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said “had to be passed so we can read it.”

So Trump’s recent musings on this effort are meaningful. The last thing we should hope for are laws that repeal and replace Obamacare become immediate and bitter partisan targets for Democrats — who along with their friends in the mainstream media will call the replacement “Trumpcare”. Also, Democrats will later be sorely tempted to repeal Trumpcare once they get back in power.

Better the fruit of the Obamacare tree ripen and stink a bit more before it’s cut down — so that repeal and replacement can be bipartisan. Plus in the meantime, there are plenty of other important promises Trump can keep.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.

Michael P. Rethman

Scientist, dentist, university faculty, former city council chair.

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