Charles E. Richardson

There is more to repeal and replace than meets the naked eye

Donald Trump: GOP health care plan 'empowers states and consumers'

In his weekly address to the nation, posted on YouTube Friday afternoon, President Trump explained the importance of the new GOP health care bill proposed days earlier by Paul Ryan and congressional Republicans. credit: courtesy of the White House.
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In his weekly address to the nation, posted on YouTube Friday afternoon, President Trump explained the importance of the new GOP health care bill proposed days earlier by Paul Ryan and congressional Republicans. credit: courtesy of the White House.

I knew he was in trouble when he said, “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

I’m sure the governors in the room for a meeting at the White House on Feb. 27 had to be looking a little bewildered. Anybody who has been paying the least bit of attention over the last 70 years would know health care is about as complicated an issue as there is.

Even his November opponent, who he bested, Hillary Clinton, could have told him how thorny an issue health care is. Remember the shellacking she took in 1993 when she tried to go into her quiet space and come out with a health-care reform package? She’s still picking the knives out of her back. Heck, talk about health care for or against goes as far back as President Franklin Roosevelt.

But Trump’s statement told me some very basic things about him. He doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. I’ve written on this subject before. There are four types of intelligence, or the lack of. The first being what I just described about President Trump.

Normally, not knowing that you don’t know is just plain stupid, but I’ll give Trump the benefit of the doubt. He was elected president so he’s got something going on under his comb over. The question is, will this health care debacle move him to the second level of intelligence: Knowing that he doesn’t know?

Knowing that you don’t know is a sign of intelligent life. It means that a person realizes they’re deficient in a particular area and then seek the information they need. But in Trump’s case, he has surrounded himself with people who don’t know they don’t know. His executive team is comprised of Washington, D.C. rookies. That’s the swamp where the establishment, the same folks Trump has railed against, play hard ball.

Here’s the problem, and why he couldn’t repeal and replace Obamacare the first go’round. One, Trump couldn’t explain the bill or why it would be “fantastic” for 24 million people to lose their health insurance or why Medicaid would save oodles of money? But the lawmakers knew the math and understood that a lot of representatives can be repealed and replaced with 24 million votes.

That was the original plan, before the Freedom Caucus started making demands and labeling the bill Obamacare Lite. That was before demanding draconian changes and Trump’s team rolled over like a rug, losing moderates while still not gaining conservative support. Why? Because he forgot Rule No. 1.

Each lawmaker asks one question before casting a vote: Will this vote get me re-elected or unelected? Folks in the House have to face voters every two years and they are in constant re-election mode. It’s simple math, when Trump and Speaker Ryan agreed to eviscerate the bill to make it palatable to the conservatives, the moderates ran for the hills.

So we’ve covered two of the four levels of intelligence. I’m not sure I have to go to level three and four because we’re nowhere near those, yet. You can’t get to Level Three, “Knowing That You Know” watching cable news shows or by getting up early or staying up late warming up your Twitter thumbs. You have to work at it. You have to bury yourself in intelligence briefings. You have to ask questions of those who really know, not those who think they know. And you have to learn from your butt-whippings. We won’t even talk about the fourth level of intelligence. That’s God’s gift. You know you know, but you don’t know how you know.

Will Trump’s ego allow him to admit that he doesn’t know? If not, this will not be the last time he’ll get his legislative hat handed to him. This defeat has already emboldened Democrats for 2018. But my advice to the donkeys is to keep their powder dry. There is still a swamp, and they are still part of it, too, and unless they help produce for the American people, they can get repealed and replaced, too.

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