BOSTON (CBS) – President Trump is going all in on a legal effort to discard Obamacare entirely. And in a classic display of (apparently) unintended consequences, it’s invigorating Democrats and dismaying some Republicans.
“The move by the Trump administration [to support a federal court ruling invalidating Obamacare] is a slap in the face to American families, a devastating blow,” says Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
And it’s a politically telling sign that Democrats aren’t the only ones crying foul over the unexpected Justice Department decision to support a district court ruling that could wipe out coverage for 20 million Americans.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins has been a persuadable vote for the White House before. But now, she says, “I’m very disappointed and vehemently opposed to the administration seeking to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act.”
And the website Politico reports both Attorney General William Barr and Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar were strongly opposed to the move to end Obamacare without a viable replacement plan.
But the president insists: “The Republican party will soon be known as the party of healthcare. You watch!”
He has apparently been persuaded by a theory in vogue on the far-right – that in order to change the healthcare status quo, you have to destroy it first. “Oftentimes unless Congress is forced to act, it doesn’t act,” says Rep. Sean Duffy (R) Wisconsin. “We’ll put out a plan that we think will actually drive down the cost of care for the people that we represent.”
But for now, there is no such plan. And the Democrats see that as a potential political windfall.
Says Schumer: “The Trump position ties a two-year anchor around the neck of every Republican for the next two years.”
This seems headed for a showdown in the Supreme Court, and the legal maneuvering could drag on for months or even years. That’s why so many Republicans are looking at their party’s disarray on the issue and lack of a consensus alternative plan and wondering if the damage they suffered last November might have been just a preview of 2020.