After nearly a decade of constant failure to repeal Obamacare, Republicans — led by Trump — are shamelessly lying about their record and claiming they supported the popular health care law's groundbreaking protections all along.
The Republican Party's obsessive, eight-year-long crusade against Obamacare reached a true low point at Trump's final rally before Election Day, when he promised his most devoted followers he would defend the law he once viciously attacked.
"The Democrat plan would obliterate Obamacare," Trump told his supporters, without a hint of irony.
Here we are, Folks. Trump: "The Democrat plan would obliterate Obamacare." pic.twitter.com/tgWSjIoZxf
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 6, 2018
This was a lie, of course — one of the roughly 30 lies a day that Trump has been telling in the seven weeks leading up to the midterms.
But this particular lie is an epic one. And with those six words, Trump put the cherry on top of a pile of Republican failures that have been stacking up for nearly a decade.
President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress — without a single Republican vote — passed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in 2010.
Ever since that day, Republicans have made it their singular mission to attack and try to undermine Obamacare. Meanwhile, Democrats have fiercely resisted those attacks and united to protect the landmark health reform law.
Republican attorneys general actually sued the government to try to overturn the legislation as unconstitutional. But when that case made it to the Supreme Court, the law was upheld in a 5-4 decision — with the swing vote coming from Bush appointee Chief Justice John Roberts.
Led by then-Speaker John Boehner, Republicans in the House voted 54 times to repeal Obamacare.
All of those votes went nowhere, and Obamacare was implemented. As a result, millions of people got health insurance who couldn't access or afford it before the law's groundbreaking reforms.
After Trump won the 2016 election and Republicans kept both the House and Senate, that was supposed to be the death knell for Obamacare.
On the campaign trail, Trump had bragged that repeal would be immediate and "so easy."
But while Republicans were busy scheming against the legislation, support for the law began to grow.
It turns out that people like having quality, affordable health insurance, and that they don't like politicians who try to repeal a popular law that helps people.
Legislatively, the Republican attack on Obamacare reached its most dangerous point with the American Health Care Act. That bill would have repealed Obamacare and replaced it with an awful alternative that would have taken health insurance away from 26 million Americans.
Trump and Congressional Republicans were so sure that their law would pass, they held a premature victory celebration in the Rose Garden after the House voted to advance the bill.
That turned out to be a disastrous act of hubris. The AHCA died in the Senate in a dramatic late-night vote.
The bill itself dying wasn't the only embarrassment for the GOP. The contents of the bill most Republicans voted for were so bad, it gave Democrats an extremely effective political weapon.
Among other horrors, the AHCA would have let states give insurance companies the freedom to overcharge people with pre-existing health conditions, and even price them out of the market entirely.
That terrible practice had been banned under Obamacare — and protections for pre-existing conditions have become one of the most popular parts of the law.
Democrats used campaign ads and speeches and literature to hammer away at Republicans and their coldhearted initiative. According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, 54 percent of all Democratic advertising during the campaign focused on health care.
This has led to the embarrassing spectacle of Republicans lying through their teeth and proclaiming that they really supported pre-existing conditions protections all along — even though they repeatedly voted to gut those protections, whether through the AHCA or through straight Obamacare repeal.
Republicans have also attempted to undermine Obamacare by eliminating certain subsidies and repealing the individual coverage mandate.
Even now, Republicans — supported by the Trump administration — are still challenging the Affordable Care Act in court.
But the law still stands. Millions of people have access to vital medical care thanks to its provisions like Medicaid expansion.
The Republican attack on Obamacare has been one embarrassing step after another. The party has lost on multiple fronts: in the courts, in the legislature, on the campaign trail (Mitt Romney was pro-repeal and lost to Obama in 2012), and in the court of public opinion.
Obamacare lives. And it has become such a vital part of American life that even Trump, who attacked it for years, has been forced into paying it nonsensical lip service.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.