Vice President Mike Pence had plenty to say at this week's debate against Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), but his comments on health care policy continue to linger for a reason.
"Obamacare was a disaster and the American people remember it well. President Trump and I have plans to improve health care and to protect pre-existing conditions for every American."
Right off the bat, it's worth emphasizing that the Affordable Care Act still exists; it's still working; and it's still providing health security to tens of millions of American families, so for the vice president to refer to it in the past tense was odd.
It was also notable that Pence said "the American people remember" the ACA well, since the Affordable Care Act's popularity continues to reach new heights. Indeed, "Obamacare" is more popular than any policy from the Trump/Pence agenda of the last four years.
But what seemed especially important was the vice president's insistence that he and Donald Trump "have plans to improve health care and to protect pre-existing conditions for every American." They do? That's great to hear, though it leads to an awkward follow-up question:
Where are these plans hiding?
Two weeks ago, the president said he was unveiling a "plan" to improve health care and to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, but what Trump actually signed were some executive orders that literally didn't do anything.
The HuffPost's Jeffrey Young had a terrific summary of the unveiling, explaining that the president "really, really wants to fool voters into thinking he has a plan to make the health care system great again. But he really, really doesn't."
Slogans, lies and exaggerations aren't policies. Trump pitched his phantom plan by saying it rests on three pillars: "more choice," "lower costs," and "better care," and that it would "put patients first." Those focus-group-tested slogans sound great! Except they're hogwash. The truth is that, like in so many other areas, Trump doesn't want to do the work.
As a recently published book makes clear, he never does.
In practical terms why does it matter that Pence clearly wasn't telling the truth about having plans "to improve health care and to protect pre-existing conditions for every American"? Aside from the inherent problems associated with national office-holders deceiving the public on life-or-death issues, the fact remains that the Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices may soon tear down the Affordable Care Act and strip Americans of the protections and benefits it provides.
Pence wants voters to believe that they shouldn't worry, because he and Trump have a blueprint in place to pick up the pieces if the Republicans anti-ACA lawsuit succeeds. It'd be great if that were true. It's not.