Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent is just one of a handful of Congressional Republicans who has stepped up his criticisms of the president after announcing – often with a purposeful air of liberation – that he would not seek another term in 2018. So perhaps with an eye toward landing a lucrative TV news analyst job in 15 months, Dent took to CNN to share his views about the president’s controversial decision to cancel federal cost-sharing subsidies to Obamacare insurers, a decision that Dent believes will ultimately hurt the Republicans by forcing them to take ownership of the ‘death spiral’ that now appears inevitable as insurers jack up premiums – or pull out of markets like UnitedHealth did - to compensate now that the lucrative government payoffs that made it possible (and profitable) for insurers to provide coverage for the riskiest patients (aka those with preexisting conditions) have ended.
Trump has been threatening to kill the subsidies for months – a fact that hasn’t been lost on insurers, who’ve jacked up premiums preemptively to account for the “uncertainty” surrounding future federal health-care policy. But as Dent sensibly asserts, by killing the payments, Trump is creating an opening for Democrats to sell a narrative where the Republicans spitefully sabotaged Obamacare after failing to repeal it and replace it with “something way better,” as president Trump had repeatedly promised.
Leaving Republicans to own Obama’s mess while absolving the Democrats by conclusively ceding the moral high ground.
“Barack Obama is a former president. Trump is a president, and he’s a Republican and we control the Congress. We own this system now. We’re going to have to figure out a way to stabilize this situation. Barack Obama is no longer in the equation. So, this is on us.”
Dent demurred when asked if he would describe the president’s actions as “sabotage”, saying only that the decision to end the subsidies was “not helpful.”
“This is certainly not helpful. I think the president is ill-advised to take this course of action because we at the end of the day we will own this.”
To paraphrase Dent, while the public may not widely understand the finer points of health care policy, it does recognize sour grapes. Oh, and skyrocketing premiums, or lost coverage. They’ll understand that, too.