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On ACA’s future, Trump isn’t done doing Democrats a big favor

When Donald Trump picked a fight over "terminating" the ACA, Democrats could hardly believe their good fortune. Then, the Republican did it again.

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Democrats could hardly believe their good fortune. With Democrats confronted by disappointing poll numbers and widespread anxiety throughout their party, Donald Trump thought it’d be a good idea to pick a pointless fight over the one issue Democrats are most eager to talk about.

Over the weekend, the former president published this message to his social media platform, telling Americans that he’s “seriously looking at alternatives” to “Obamacare.” The former president went on to complain about Republican senators who failed to “terminate” the Affordable Care Act in 2017, concluding, “[B]ut we should never give up!”

Democrats responded with uncharacteristic speed and ferocity, putting health care — an issue where the party dominatesback in the national spotlight, while reminding the public just how drastic the consequences would be if the Republican frontrunner were to scrap the landmark reform law.

It was against this backdrop that Trump came up with a new bright idea: He’d repeat the message that Democrats want him to say. Shortly before midnight, the former president published a new missive on the subject:

Getting much better Healthcare than Obamacare for the American people will be a priority of the Trump Administration. It is not a matter of cost, it is a matter of HEALTH. America will have one of the best Healthcare Plans anywhere in the world. Right now it has one of the WORST!

About an hour later, for good measure, Trump added, “I don’t want to terminate Obamacare, I want to REPLACE IT with MUCH BETTER HEALTHCARE. Obamacare Sucks!!!”

Let’s take a moment to unpack this, because it’s important on multiple fronts.

First, it’s a little late for the former president to claim he doesn’t want to “terminate” the ACA: It was just a few days earlier when he expressed disappointment that Senate Republicans failed, in his own words, to “terminate” the reform law.

Second, Trump’s talk about creating one of the world’s best health care systems certainly sounds nice, though the rhetoric is belied by the fact that he’s literally spent years assuring Americans that he was poised to unveil an amazing plan that would vastly improve upon the Affordable Care Act. The Republican has never followed through on the rhetoric, however, because he has no such plan — and he never will.

Third, Trump’s exclamation points notwithstanding, the ACA is working well; it’s more affordable than ever; it’s about as popular as it’s ever been; it’s withstood far too many legal challenges; and most Republicans are eager to avoid talking about it.

Finally, there’s the straightforward political calculus: GOP officials want the public conversation to focus on inflation, immigration and crime. Trump, in his infinite wisdom, is apparently prepared to help shift that conversation, focusing on his intention to imperil the health security of tens of millions of American families.

If Democrats are very lucky, he’ll keep echoing the message they want him to say.

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