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Donald Trump's healthcare bill passed in US House: Republicans won this battle, but they've lost the war

The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one other such victory would utterly undo him...

- Plutarch, on the life of Pyrrhus

On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed Trumpcare, a giant tax cut for millionaires and billionaires masquearading as a healthcare bill. I expected Donald Trump to take to Twitter and declare victory. And he didn't disappoint:

A great number of Republicans would have also popped many a champagne cork.

But unlike Pyrrhus surveying the remnants of his once mighty army and reflecting upon his impending doom at the hands of the Roman Empire, Trump and the Republicans have failed to fortell the defeat that lurks behind this win. Before long, those sounds of champagne corks popping will resemble Chopin's Funeral March.

The Republican party currently holds the US House, Senate and the Oval Office. They have never been closer to utter ruin. Let me borrow the words of former US president George W Bush to describe this bill: For the Republican party, this is a catastrophic success. Minus the success.


President Donald Trump, accompanied by GOP House members, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Thursday. AP

President Donald Trump, accompanied by GOP House members, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Thursday. AP

This bill inflicts untold damage on the public. Literally. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimates the impact of a bill on the public before it is voted upon, did not have the time to score this bill and assess its impact on the economy.

Which was entirely by design at the hands of the Republican leadership in the House, who did not want the CBO to score this bill. Did not want the public to find how just how much damage it this bill would do to them and their children.

Unfortunately for them, the CBO was able to analyse the previous iteration of the bill. The better version of this bill, which would have thrown close to 24 million people off healthcare. More specifically, the most economically vulnerable: Trump voters. And they say irony is dead.

Seventeen percent of voters favoured the previous bill. This version is infinitely worse. It gets rid of coverage for pre-existing conditions, which would remove millions and milllions more from the healthcare rolls.

It also removes insurance companies from having to cover “essential benefits” such as ambulance rides to the hospital and care for pregnant women. Perhaps worst of all, it increases premiums by thousands of dollars. Healthcare becomes accessable, but unaffordable.

What next?

Donald Trump pumps his hands to GOP House members after the House pushed through the health care bill. AP

Donald Trump pumps his hands to GOP House members after the House pushed through the health care bill. AP

The bill moves to the Senate, which has been described as the place where bills go to die. The bill, in its current form, has been described as “Dead on Arrival” in the Senate.

Most likely, the bill will be overhauled and sent back to the House for approval. And then it becomes incumbent on the House to vote for the bill again. Which is no guarantee, given the compromises that had to be made to get this bill passed in the first place.

But let us assume the Senate votes for the bill in its current form. The Republicans have the slimmest of majorities in the Senate. Of 100 seats, they hold 52. The bill needs 51 votes to pass.

One representative anonymously described this as a career-ending vote. Even some conservative senators such as Lindsey Graham and Rob Portman have come out against the bill in its current form.

Republican Senators in purple districts (that swing from Republican to Democrat) who vote for this bill will be at risk for losing their seats. And they will. A vote for this bill is political suicide.

The Democrats are licking their lips

If this bill is ratified into law, it will decimate the Republican majority in the House and Senate in 2018. In 2020, it will hand over the presidency to the Democrats. Thankfully for the American voters, this bill has almost no chance of passing the US Senate in its current form.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, even if it does not become law, the mere act of voting for this bill has put their majority in both the House and Senate, and even the presidency at risk. If all politics is personal, wait until the voters realise what this bill does to their families and their healthcare.

If Trump and the GOP ever reflect on where it all went wrong, they would do well to think back to 4 May, 2017. It will be, for Republicans, a day that shall live in infamy.

Updated Date: May 05, 2017 11:29 AM

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