One week out from Election Day, Donald Trump and Mike Pence took another swing at the single biggest punching bag for Republicans over the last eight years -- President Obama's Affordable Care Act."I will ask Congress to convene a special session so we can repeal and replace [Obamacare]," Trump said on Tuesday in Pennsylvania in a joint appearance with his running mate. "Obamacare has to be replaced, and we will do it. And we will do it very, very quickly. It is a catastrophe."
The Republican presidential ticket yesterday turned its attention to an issue that hasn't played too big a role in the 2016 elections: the Affordable Care Act. Not surprisingly, the national GOP candidates are eager to destroy it and replace it with ... something.
What's interesting about Trump's vow is the competing layers of nonsense. The ACA, for example, isn't a catastrophe. The entirety of the law also can't be replaced "very, very quickly," even if Republicans had something to replace it with -- which they don't. The GOP candidate was effectively promising to have Congress swiftly approve a Republican health care reform package that Republicans have struggled for seven years to write.But it was Trump's call for a "special session" of Congress that was especially notable, because it stood as a reminder that the Republican presidential candidate still doesn't understand Civics 101. Yes, a president can call Congress into special session when members are on recess, but by Inauguration Day 2017, the new Congress will already be in session,In other words, Trump won't need a "special" session to take health benefits away from tens of millions of Americans; a regular ol' session will do just fine.What's more, in a speech that was supposed to be devoted to health care, Trump didn't seem particularly interested in his chosen issue. The Republican repeated some of the usual lines condemning "Obamacare"; he briefly touted some predictable ideas he doesn't seem to fully understand (HSAs, buying insurance across state lines); and he moved on to other topics.Mike Pence's pitch wasn't much better.The Indiana governor also repeated the usual talking points, but what was arguably most important about the vice presidential nominee's speech was what Pence didn't say: his home state has implemented the Affordable Care Act, and it's turned out pretty well.Indeed, Indiana's uninsured rate has been cut by about a third -- boosted in part by the fact that the governor embraced Medicaid expansion through the ACA -- and while Pence complained about rising premiums, coverage costs have actually fallen a bit in his home state.What the public was left with was a health care speech filled with foolish attacks, ridiculous promises, and assurances about an alternative plan that doesn't exist.This, alas, is what passes for a policy speech from the Republican presidential ticket.