Op-Ed: The national illness

Many Republican leaders are leery about having their name attached to the GOP’s replacement for Obamacare, a health care overhaul they have demonized since it was passed seven years ago. But they’re having a devilish time coming up with one of their own that doesn’t make things worse.

It’s hard to blame them for preferring not to be identified with their American Health Care Act, which is the official title of their slapped-together replacement. They have to come up with something now that they have a lock on our government. After all, they promised incessantly to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In fact, they are actually repealing overall about a century’s worth of progress, but let’s focus on how they are gutting health care.

White House officials made it clear that their boss doesn’t want it to be called “Trumpcare.” On down the line, those who created it also don’t want to be held responsible. After all, it manages to take all the problems of the ACA and make them worse. “AHCA” could be mistaken for a sneeze. So we have to come up with a better name.

This concoction was prepared under the guidance of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is really into arcane policy. He’s also into maintaining the myth that there are ways to deliver health care in the United States, given our bought-and-paid-for politicians, that are more effective and less expensive than Obamacare. So he’s come up his own convoluted plan. Apparently he doesn’t want it to be called “Ryancare,” but it is his baby, so how about something like the Speaker’s Contrivance for Access to Medical care: SCAM?

It is a scam. While it’s presented as a more effective approach, it really provides health care coverage to fewer people and will be more expensive with most of the financial benefits going to the wealthy.

But that seems to be the direction they are heading governmentwide. Washington is now a conservative’s paradise. Plans are being developed to cripple nearly all domestic programs, the ones that have been fought for over decades, the ones that provide food and shelter for those who need such things. Meanwhile, the regulations that often are the only barrier to stop the greedy from stealing even more are being shredded. The heads of the department that is there to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink are enemies of environmental protection and are beholden to the industries responsible for climate change. They would abandon what little protection we have from a future where the planet is significantly damaged.

Much is being made about the Trump administration’s coziness with Russia, a ruthless adversary of the United States. As dangerous as Vladimir Putin’s apparatus is, the bigger danger might be from the many operating parts of Donald Trump’s government.

What’s equally pathetic is watching the opposition dither. We all recognize the ridiculous bungling that marked the Democrats’ election campaigns, but it’s also obvious that they learned absolutely nothing from their dismal failures. They’re still running around, crashing into each other with their slapstick turf battles. Even when they do draw blood on egregious issues, like the Russia connection, they fail to follow up in effective ways. Worst of all, Donald Trump, as president, has shown himself to be a buffoon largely surrounded by extremist incompetents. Have Democrats been able to exploit that? Not really. The only accountability that President Twitter has had to endure comes from the media and the courts, because neither has been intimidated by his hateful bluster. But even those institutions have been splattered by his mindless mudslinging.

Millions of Americans continue to passionately support Trump, determined to exact revenge on his political enemies, those they see as “elitist.” They are so angry that they are blind to the fact he is acting against their interests. There is no health care plan for this pervasive national sickness, and no sign of recovery.

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