Trump Hands Biden a Victory by Doubling Down on Obamacare 

zimmytws /
zimmytws /

One thing former President Donald Trump enjoys is creating controversy, and he’s done it again with his recently renewed threats to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. On his Truth Social platform, the GOP frontrunner posted that he was “seriously looking at alternatives” to Obamacare, giving his Democrat rival an unexpected gift. 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, was the monstrously ineffective healthcare reform law enacted in 2010. Its stated goals were allegedly to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance, expand Medicaid, and reduce the overall number of uninsured Americans.  

The ACA established “health insurance marketplaces” full of unaffordable and horrible insurance plans. Many Americans were forced to drop their insurance because of the rising costs of their plans, and those who dropped coverage found themselves ineligible for any marketplace plan.  Still, it added some consumer protections, like prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions and allowing kids to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26. 

While the plan arguably hurt more families than it helped, it was passed over 13 years ago and has been the law of the land ever since. Trump’s significant accomplishment came when he removed the individual mandate, which punished people who could not afford health insurance by charging them a fine of up to $2085 per family annually. 

Since then, Obamacare has lived quietly in the background, an accepted but unpopular part of life for Americans. For some, the law has gained favorability over the years, with a March 2023 poll showing that 60% of those surveyed approved the Affordable Care Act. 

In 2016, Trump campaigned on a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, a commitment he could not fulfill during his presidency. President Trump’s recent emphasis on health care has sparked renewed discussions about his unsuccessful attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

Within Trump’s circle, that failure falls at the feet of the late Sen. John McCain (AZ-R).  McCain’s pivotal vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act, marked by a dramatic “thumbs down” gesture on the Senate floor, is often cited as the action that derailed the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle Obamacare. 

Former President Trump’s recent posts suggesting that replacing Obamacare would be a priority for his administration reportedly surprised many on his team. Some advisers mentioned that Obamacare was not a prominent issue in ongoing policy and strategy discussions, and the campaign had not developed an alternative healthcare policy. One Trump adviser noted that the announcement “completely came out of nowhere” and that the team had not been actively discussing health care with the former president. 

Additionally, some Trump advisers acknowledged that advocating for the termination of a healthcare law that is now generally viewed favorably by the public could be a political disadvantage leading into the 2024 election. Realizing the issue as a political non-starter, the party has largely shifted away from campaigning on Obamacare. 

“Talk about the border,” one Trump strategist said. “Talk about the economy. Talk about no more foreign wars. Don’t talk about health care.” 

The Biden camp has seized the opportunity to emphasize that Trump plans to “strip insurance” from Americans if elected. One source noted that the Biden campaign quickly decided to “juice it out as much as we possibly can.”  

The Biden campaign is launching healthcare-related TV ads, alleging that under Trump, young Americans under 26 would be kicked off of their parents’ insurance plans, that “Black and brown” communities would be hit the hardest, and that Americans with preexisting conditions would be thrown to the wolves. 

A recent CNN poll showed Trump ahead of Biden by four percentage points, 49% to Biden’s 45%. It was an increase of two percentage points from polls conducted in August, showing Trump leading Biden 47% to 46%. In a New York Times/Siena College poll released earlier this month, Trump maintained his lead over Biden in crucial battleground states. The poll indicated Trump leading with 48 percent compared to Biden’s 44 percent among voters in six key states. 

While the race is Trump’s to lose, victory depends on Biden’s continued failures in the Oval Office. He should remember that Obamacare was bought and paid for through a complex series of lies and strategic bribes in 2010 and is unlikely to be repealed. No matter the harm Obamacare has caused millions of families, it’s here to stay. Trump should stick with a winning strategy rather than threatening the one lasting “legacy” Obama left for his fawning fan base.  

Under Biden, Americans have far more important things to worry about than Obamacare.