Late on Friday night, a far-right judge with a reputation for giving Republicans what they want handed the GOP a rather extraordinary gift: U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor struck down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional.
In the short term, nothing has changed in terms of the application of the law -- "Obamacare" remains in place while the appeals process moves forward -- but the ruling, derided as ridiculous by experts from the left, right, and center, has put the health security of tens of millions of Americans in jeopardy.
Donald Trump couldn't be more pleased.
President Donald Trump on Saturday hailed a court decision against Obamacare as "a great ruling for our country," while a U.S. government official said the decision by a Texas judge would have no immediate impact on health coverage. [...]"It's a great ruling for our country. We will be able to get great health care. We will sit down with the Democrats if the Supreme Court upholds," Trump told reporters during a visit to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on a rainy Saturday.
On Twitter, the president added that the district court's decision is "great news for America!"
While many of Trump's pronouncements are odd, this was an especially difficult position to defend. The Republican just spent months on the campaign trail, boasting at one rally after another that he and his party will protect Americans with pre-existing conditions.
And yet, there was Trump, celebrating a ruling that stripped people of these same protections.
Indeed, the right-wing decision has introduced a degree of uncertainty -- and by some measures, chaos -- into a system countless families rely on. For those Americans terrified of losing their benefits as part of an ugly GOP scheme, it's not at all clear what, exactly, the president considers "great."
What's more, Trump's misplaced joy notwithstanding, most Republican policymakers don't seem nearly as excited as the president.
As Politico noted over the weekend, "Congress was ready to move on from Obamacare."
The midterm elections took repeal off the table, and Democrats were gearing up for a party-defining fight over "Medicare for all." But Friday night's ruling by a federal judge in Texas that the Affordable Care Act must be scrapped once again puts the law front and center as Democrats prepare to take back the House just weeks from now.The ruling is sure to be appealed, and the Trump administration says it's business as usual in the meantime. But the decision spells bad news for Republicans, by allowing Democrats to replay a potent health care message that helped them flip 40 House seats: that the GOP remains hellbent on gutting Obamacare and rolling back protections for pre-existing conditions.
The Washington Post added that Friday night's ruling puts renewed pressure on Republicans to either take steps to protect the ACA or produce a credible alternative -- something the party has tried and failed to do for nearly a decade.
What's more, while there's renewed uncertainty in the health care marketplace, there's no uncertainty at all about which political party is responsible for this mess. Republicans have waged a tireless campaign to take popular and necessary health care benefits away from American families, and as of Friday night, the GOP looks a bit like the dog that caught the car.
"It's all the downsides," a House GOP aide told Politico. "Politically, I don't think that it helps us at all."
What Trump sees as "great news" is actually horrible news for everyone, including Trump -- whether he realizes it or not.