It is no secret that Donald Trump hates the U.S. Constitution as much as he hates people of color, democracy, and women; he has violated it with a frequency that is mind boggling. In fact, his attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act is a glaring example of his disregard for the Constitution that informs his legal obligation is to faithfully execute all valid laws; particularly one that has been upheld twice by the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to Article II of the Constitution, all branches of government, including the executive branch, have to “take Care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Trump’s mandate is making sure that the nation’s laws are not only executed in good faith, he has to use his “executive discretion toward that end.” The agencies under Trump are also legally mandated under the Administrative Procedure Act “not to use their power to engage in arbitrary action” that harms a valid federal law.
Trump’s unilateral decision last week to inflict damage on the insurance industry and eliminate healthcare for millions of Americans is an “intentional sabotage of the ACA” and a violation of Trump’s constitutional obligations and those of his sycophants running the Department of Health and Human Services. In a fair society Trump would have been impeached for violating his oath of office and the Constitution, but this is Trump’s America now and the concept of a “fair society” no longer exists.
That being the case, it may explain why a Republican joined with a Democrat in a bipartisan attempt to shore up the cost-sharing subsidies Trump just unilaterally ended as part of another Republican attack on the American people. Trump’s executive order putting an end to “cost sharing reductions” would have driven the insurance industry to increase premiums by 25 percent as well as make it impossible for low-income families to afford healthcare.
It was another effort by Trump to kill a valid law he claimed was “virtually dead” after his barbaric and illegal executive order ending cost sharing reduction payments. Two members of the Senate reached a bipartisan deal and it isn’t clear if the Republican was involved to save Trump or help the people and insurance industry; it is almost certain it wasn’t to help the people. Republicans never, never ever, do anything to help the people unless they are in the wealthiest 1 percent of income earners.
A short-term (two year) fix to save Americans from suffering a double-digit rate increase and save affordable access to healthcare is the work of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA). It is noteworthy that Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) teamed up with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) last month to attempt at a similar deal even as Republicans were working to put an end to the ACA. Ms.Collins and Mr. Nelson’s efforts appeared to be genuine efforts to protect the people, not Trump.
On Sunday Senator Collins reiterated what everyone with a pulse knew that what Trump was doing would hurt Americans and the insurance industry. She told CNN’s Jake Tapper:
“What the president is doing is affecting the ability of vulnerable people to receive healthcare right now. These certainly are very disruptive moves that will result in smaller numbers of people being insured. That will make it more difficult [for] low-income people to afford their out-of-pocket costs, and that will destabilize the insurance markets.”
It is that disruption and destabilization the bipartisan effort hopes to put off for a couple of years if the short term deal manages to squeak through both houses of Congress. According to Senator Alexander, that is precisely what the intention of the deal is. Only instead of avoiding “disruption and destabilization,” the Tennessee senator claims it is to “avoid chaos.” He said:
“In my view, this agreement avoids chaos, and I don’t know a Democrat or a Republican who benefits from chaos.”
According to reports, terrible Trump “appeared” to back the deal he claimed was a “short term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period, it’ll get us over this intermediate hump.” What Trump didn’t say was that without his illegal executive order attempting to kill a valid law, there wouldn’t be a “very dangerous little period.”
However encouraging a sign of bipartisanship to shore up the ACA appears, it is certainly not all good news. The deal includes giving states “more flexibility in the variety of choices they can give to consumers,” and it is a gift to Republican states that want authority to control how healthcare is administered and who they can restrict access to.
For example, to save the cost sharing reductions, Republican states will win free reign to disregard many requirements unique to the Affordable Care Act. Another gift to Republicans is the ability to offer “catastrophic insurance plans” (junk policies) to people of any age. Under the ACA only Americans under the age of 30 can buy worthless policies, or if they received a waiver because they work at jobs paying slave wages.
On the up side, Ms. Murray and Mr. Alexander restored millions of dollars for advertising and outreach activities publicizing the options available during the ACA’s open enrollment period. As part of his illegal and unconstitutional attempt to kill the valid health law, Trump decimated that funding earlier in the year. Senator Alexander “promised” that the deal “will spend about twice as much or more than President Trump wanted to expend.”
Although there was tepid support for “the deal,” there is no guarantee that hard line Republicans in the House and Senate will go along with anything that might possibly extend the life of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, it isn’t entirely clear if any Republican is supporting the “deal” for any other reason than saving the insurance industry or their standard bearer Trump from being in yet another violation of the U.S. Constitution. As anyone with a pulse is likely aware, Republicans have not done anything whatsoever for the health and welfare of the American people and if the deal was simply keeping the cost reduction sharing in place to help Americans afford access to healthcare coverage, it would have been a first.
What isn’t a first is Trump’s blatant disregard for the Constitution. Whether any member of Congress would have invoked Article II to pressure him to rescind his latest illegal executive order is highly doubtful; it is possible, but unlikely. It appears that the only people in Congress that can hold Trump accountable to the law will do anything to protect the corrupt cretin in the Oval Office. In this case it appears that a few Republicans are willing to let the ACA last a bit longer, but not to help the American people. It is more likely they are acting to save the insurance industry and protect Trump from being accused of something he does regularly; violate the U.S. Constitution.
Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite