Why Trump couldn't abolish Obamacare

The Republicans withdrew the health bill they had drafted to replace Obamacare shortly before it was put to vote in the House of Representatives. The party's right-wing refused to give its backing, leaving the GOP unable to honour its key campaign pledge. Commentators are not surprised by this crushing defeat.

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Večernji list (HR) /

Health is not a commodity

Journalist Marina Šerić explains in a commentary in Večernji list why she is not surprised that Trump has failed in his battle against Obamacare:

“Clearly a critical mass has formed that believes that health insurance is not just a commodity, like shoes or furniture. What is at issue here is a human right - in the truest sense of the word. The right not to have to die of a disease that can be successfully diagnosed and treated. The right not to end up homeless if one of your loved ones becomes seriously ill. Like Joyce, a librarian I met in a park in Washington a few years ago. Her husband got cancer and she used up all her savings and credit to pay for his treatment. When she had no more money left for his treatment, he died. She was left with the debts and has been living on the street ever since. … When Obama introduced his health insurance system he had precisely such cases in mind.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

President remains foreign to his own party

Trump works according to a logic that is entirely different to that of his Republican Party, Corriere del Ticino notes:

“The relationship between Trump and 'his' party is interesting. … On the one side we have a president like Trump who claims to be against the system but has no choice but to use the instruments that came before he did. Instruments which he sees as superfluous for his administration. … On the other there is a Republic Party that continues to act as a name giver for Trump, the outsider, but sees the president as a foreign body within its traditional and reliable mechanisms. So we needn't be surprised when such unpleasant mishaps occur - naturally to the great delight of the opposition.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

State can't be run like a business

Donald Trump lacks political competence, La Libre Belgique concludes:

“After the failed Muslim ban in the area of homeland security, the fiasco over Obamacare (whose abolishment was a central campaign promise of candidate Trump) should be enough to convince Americans that a businessman is not necessarily a statesman and that you can't run a country like a business. If Donald Trump wants to prevent his presidency from ending in disaster he must rapidly rehabilitate himself politically by showing that he finally wants to act in the common interest. Obamacare offered a good opportunity for him to do this. He could have tried to improve his predecessor's healthcare reform (which does need revamping) rather than trying to torpedo it in vain.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

A colossal defeat

The US president has failed miserably, De Volkskrant writes gleefully:

“This is terrific news and a colossal defeat for Trump. ... Because it shows that Congress won't let itself be intimidated by the threats that Trump never stops hurling at them. ... The best news is that the Republican plan which in the long term would have stripped around 24 million Americans of their healthcare is no longer on the table. ... Immediately after his defeat, Trump showed his vindictive side. Rather than talking with the Democrats about how to get rid of Obamacare's drawbacks, he wants to let the whole system explode. ... That demonstrates a scandalous lack of any sense of responsibility.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

No cause to gloat

The biggest challenge for the Democrats in healthcare is still to come, the daily paper taz stresses, tempering the enthusiasm over the Republicans' defeat:

“Obamacare needs to be revised and improved in many ways. Trump doesn't want to do either. On the contrary, he wants to wait until Obamacare 'explodes'. This means the oppositional Democrats, who up to now were focussed on nothing more than Obamacare, and the extraparliamentary movement, which has organised an impressive level of mobilisation in recent weeks, are facing a Herculean task. They must try to reform Obamacare, democratise the provision of medical care in the country and lower the costs at the same time. … This time the blockade is coming from above, while the constructive proposals are coming from below. This is an exciting and radical reversal of the situation.”

Politiken (DK) /

Republicans deep in a dilemma

The Republicans' failed first attempt to scrap Obamacare highlights the awkward position they finds themselves in, Politiken comments:

“In the elections in November the voters gave the party practically all the power. The Republicans control the White House, both chambers of Congress, conservative judges stand ready for appointment and the party is in power in most states. In such a situation not being able to make good on a central electoral promise and allowing Obamacare to live on is an enormous fiasco. It makes clear not only how amateurishly Trump is going about his job, but also how little control the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, has over his troops. Obamacare's survival is a stroke of luck for millions of Americans who can now keep their health insurance. That should be a cause for celebration. Nevertheless it is deeply worrying to see the US without an effective political leadership.”