While our sad presidential reality show heads towards its series finale, there’s a crucial plot arc that has been conspicuously absent from recent episodes. There is major drama afoot in one of the areas that hits closest to home — health care. Our Democratic lead character (for whom health care is certainly a concern, on many levels) promises to double down on the failures of her predecessor; and yet, her Republican counterpart looks on in uncharacteristic silence.
Hillary Clinton’s plan to build upon the unpopular failure that is Obamacare ought to provide a Republican, and certainly a conservative, with an ever-flowing wellspring of damaging criticisms to she would have little answer. Instead, for the second consecutive cycle, Republicans nominated a candidate who cannot cast a stone on the issue of health care, lest he be cut by the shards from his own glass house.
If you visit The Donald’s campaign site, you’ll actually find a fairly detailed and accurate critique of Obamacare’s failings, along with some ideas for health care reform that actually sound pretty market-oriented. Repeal Obamacare, awesome; replace with health savings accounts (HSAs), even better. Focus on patient-centered solutions; sounds great. So why doesn’t he talk about that?
Because it’s pretty clear that he didn’t write that stuff, and not at all clear that he either understands or believes in it either. When Trump actually talks about health care reform in any detail beyond “Obamacare is bad”, what comes out reflects a belief in big government solutions that are closer in effect to Hillary’s plans than to free market solutions that will actually deliver innovative, lower-cost, accessible care.
Trump’s big health care reform idea is Medicaid expansion. What!?
In fact, the most consistent feature of Trump’s commentary on health care has been compliments for countries that have single-payer government health care. Back in 2000, he even wrote in his book The America That We Deserve that he considered himself “a liberal on health” and that “we must have universal healthcare.”
Early this year the Independent Journal Review put out a list of “5 Times Trump Praised Socialized Health Care,” several of which were since he declared his run for the presidency. Trump doesn’t advocate for an actual single payer program (anymore), telling CNN in 2015 that he has “evolved on that issue”. But he does praise the systems in Canada and England for providing “free” care, conveniently ignoring the wait lists, denials of care, and the total control those governments exercise over patients’ options.
Instead, The Donald now merely advocates for universal health insurance and says “the government’s gonna pay for it,” but that somehow that will save us money. He infamously said “I like the mandate” when asked about covering people with pre-existing conditions. He has also made references to liking something like a Medicare-Advantage-for-all system where folks get government subsidized plans from a supposedly free market.
To the extent that Trump’s positions are coherent, they should also sound familiar. Because it’s basically Obamacare, in form, if not in name.
So now, even when he addresses health care at all, Trump has been kept mostly to general platitudes about Obamacare needing to be replaced, maybe with a reference to patient-centered care sprinkled in there.
For her part, Hillary is quite clear about what she wants as the next steps to a total government takeover of health care. HillaryCare 2.0 aims to “defend and expand” Obamacare, and introduce a “public option” to compete (and eventually replace) private insurance in the individual market. It’s a swift march towards truly socialized, single-payer, government control over your health care.
And it’s a real shame that Republicans don’t have a candidate who can explain how dangerous that is.
This article originally appeared on Conservative Review.