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Image: YouTube. (His health plan, like this joke, is from 2017!)

Donald Trump's drive to make the GOP the party of "great healthcare" continues, maybe, kind of, at least until some other shiny object distracts the Great Man. Yesterday brought dueling statements on whether the White House or congressional Republicans would be coming up with a brilliant plan to replace Obamacare, plus a new defeat for Trumpcare in the courts, so let's see how much winning one guy can stand, huh?

Before zipping off to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for one of his periodic slob fiestas, Trump tweeted these very specific healthcare policy goals:

As for the actual crafting of that plan, Mitch McConnell took a great big slow bite from a head of lettuce yesterday and told Politico "Not it! Nope, not it, that's for sure."

"I look forward to seeing what the president is proposing and what he can work out with the speaker," McConnell said in a brief interview Thursday, adding, "I am focusing on stopping the Democrats' 'Medicare for none' scheme."

Other Republicans joined McConnell yesterday in asserting their absolute willingness to sign on to any plan they don't have to come up with themselves, and also to yelling about how terrible Obamacare is and Medicare for All would be worse, you bet.


Politico also pointed out that at the moment, since Dems hold the House, there's not even an option for Rs to force through a crappy Obamacare repeal (and maybe replacement) using the budget reconciliation process, which would require only a 51-vote majority in the Senate.

For his part, Trump told reporters, before getting on Air Force One for the Michigan trip, all about the brilliant plan he's telling other people to come up with for him while he waits for the courts to completely erase Obamacare, maybe. Please tell us if this tune sounds familiar, won't you?

"We're working on a plan now. There's no very great rush from the standpoint we're waiting for decisions in the courts," Trump said. "I think we'll win."

Trump added that he's asked Sens. John Barrasso, Bill Cassidy, Rick Scott and others to "form a really great plan" and "come up with something that's really spectacular."

"If decisions are held up, if we win on the termination of Obamacare, we will have a plan that is far better than Obamacare, including – very importantly, preexisting conditions, which I've always been in favor of," Trump said.

Now, before you start accusing Donald Trump of simply repeating the very same empty claims he made in his 2016 campaign, we feel compelled to point out that back then he was promising "something terrific" that would involve "some sort of a really smart deal with hospitals," whereas his NEW plan will be "something really spectacular," so you just know this new pile of nothing will be an even better pile of nothing than the pile of nothing he had in mind then. And 20 million people will still lose their healthcare.

And also, one of the three senators he named as an architect for the plan, former governor and brand new Senator Rick Scott, was CEO of a hospital chain that was nabbed in the biggest Medicare fraud case in history, at least at the time. But he personally escaped being charged, so let's not nitpick too much on that, especially not the bit where one of the company's accountants said Scott was aware of the fraud and was "the leader of a criminal enterprise." If it didn't matter to Florida voters, it shouldn't matter to anyone whose healthcare Scott might help design, right?

After Trump assured reporters there was no big hurry on replacing Obamacare, and that he had Top Men working on it, the White House issued a statement promising that whatever they come up with, whenever they come up with it, will very definitely

protect people with pre-existing conditions, lower prices for care and prescription drugs even further, end surprise medical bills, and make sure Americans get the absolute best quality of care.

Or not. It's not like anyone will really care, as long as Trump keeps promising to punish his enemies. Once he actually got to the rally in Grand Rapids yesterday, he devoted barely four minutes of the 80-minute slob carnival to his newfound laserlike focus on healthcare. His repeated promise that "the Republican party will become the party of great healthcare" didn't get nearly as many cheers as his mockery of John McCain for voting down the repeal of the ACA. The crowd really got into the part where they could boo the dead guy, just in advance of Vietnam War Veterans' Day today.

The administration rounded out its new Infrastructure Healthcare Week by receiving some sad news from the DC District Court late Thursday night. Judge John Bates threw out one of Trump's multiple attempts to circumvent the Affordable Care Act, ruling that Trump's exciting new rules allowing expanded "association health plans" violated not only the ACA law, but also illegally stretch of regulations governing employer-sponsored healthcare under the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Wow, that's a heck of a good job!

The association health plans, or AHPs, would have been an option for people to buy cheap, crappy junk insurance that didn't cover the full range of healthcare needs required under the ACA. Such plans would have very low premiums, but they'd also be crap, resulting in extremely high out-of-pocket costs to anyone whose illness or accident didn't fall under the strictly limited coverage provided by the insurance.

Judge Bates wasn't impressed by the regulatory contortions the Labor Department went through in writing the regulations, and if you don't mind, we won't go into all the lawsplaining details, except for how Bates said the Trump plan "does violence" to ERISA, which is pretty strong language for a judge talking about labor regulations:

"In short, the Final Rule exceeds the statutory authority delegated by Congress in ERISA," Bates wrote. He added: "The Final Rule's provisions defining 'employer' to include associations of disparate employers and expanding membership in these associations to include working owners without employees are unlawful and must be set aside."

Gee, another setback for the grand Trump Strategy of pushing every damn regulation just to see whether a court might buy it? There's a heck of a surprise! Needless to say, the Justice Department -- which has altogether given up on defending the ACA in court -- told the Washington Post this morning it intends to defend Trump's beautiful effort to bring junk insurance to more Americans, because that's just how shit works now.

Oh, and how about that John McCain? What a LOSER.

[Politico / ABC News / NBC News / WaPo / Image: YouTube]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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You guys, hi, hello, it is almost the holiday weekend, so we are going to share you a real video posted last night by "Doctor" Sebastian "Don't Call Me A Nazi" Gorka, that hilarious old knucklecuck. We guess now that he had to give up (or gave up voluntarily!) his Fox News contract, he just makes videos for the Twitter. Hoo ... ray?

Anyway, Gorka is super-excited that Donald Trump issued that order last night, giving Bill Barr all kinds of new powers to expose the Deep State for what it is and PROVE once and for all that the gremlins who live inside Trump's diarrhea are correct when they say Hillary ordered the Deep State to do an illegal witch hunt to Trump, yadda yadda yadda, you've seen these people huff paint before, we don't have to type it all.

Here is the video, after which Wonkette will either transcribe it OR we will provide our own dramatic interpretation. Which one will it be? We don't know! Would you be able to tell the difference between the two? We don't know!

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We want to say right here at the outset that we hate Julian Assange. Aside from the sexual assault allegations against him, and aside from the fact that he's just a generally stinky and loathsome person who reportedly smeared poop on the walls at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, while reportedly not taking care of his cat, an innocent creature, he acted as Russia's handmaiden during the 2016 election, in order to further Russia's campaign to steal it for Donald Trump. All signs point to his campaign being a success!

So we are justifiably happy when bad things happen to Julian Assange. We are happy his name is shit the world over, and that any reputation WikiLeaks used to have for being on the side of freedom and transparency has been stuffed down the toilet where it belongs. We are happy he looked like such a sad-ass loser when the Ecuadorian embassy finally kicked him out and he was arrested.

And quite frankly, we were OK with the initial charge against him recently unsealed in the Eastern District of Virginia. If you'll remember, he was charged with trying to help Chelsea Manning hack a password into the Defense Department, which is not what journalists do. Journalists do not drive the get-away car for sources. Journalists do not hold their sources' hair back while they're stealing classified intel. Assange is essentially accused of doing all that.

Now, put all that aside. Because -- and this is key -- journalists do publish secrets they are provided by sources. That's First Amendment, chapter and verse, American as fucking apple pie and fast-food-induced diabetes. And that is what much of the superseding indictment of Assange unsealed yesterday was about. (And nope, it wasn't about anything regarding Assange's ratfucking the 2016 election or Hillary's emails. Why would the Trump Justice Department prosecute anything about that? It's all about the older Chelsea Manning stuff, the stuff the Obama Justice Department considered charging Assange with, but ultimately declined, because of that little thing called the First Amendment.)

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