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Opinion: Congressional Republicans have joined Donald Trump’s amateur hour

President Trump and the GOP's bungled efforts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act would be almost comical, if the consequences were not so real for millions of Americans and the economy.

Almost six months after Donald Trump was sworn in - backed by a Republican majority in the House and Senate - the president and the GOP still have no signature legislative success to their names. The starkest symbol of their failure to govern is their inability to deliver on Trump's promise to repeal former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act and replace it with a Republican version of health care reform.

What makes the ongoing legislative health care debacle more embarrassing and consequential than, for instance, President Trump's uphill struggle to build a wall along the Mexican border, is that abolishing Obama's signature piece of legislation - unlike the president's border wall idea - was a longstanding Republican policy. Getting rid of "Obamacare" has been the joint rallying cry for Republican legislators across the country for years now.

USA Trump trifft republikanische Senatoren (Reuters/K. Lamarque)

Trump-GOP health care meetings: Much ado, but nothing

Little room for schadenfreude

And while it may seem ironic that their effort towards fulfilling their "repeal and replace" promise, after several false starts in the House of Representatives, has now run aground again in the Senate due in part to a medical procedure of a lone Republican senator, there is little room for schadenfreude.

Firstly, every responsible citizen in the US and around the world, including the many who politically oppose President Trump and the Republicans, should have an interest in the most powerful country on Earth being governed professionally and predictably.

With an inexperienced and erratic commander-in-chief in the Oval Office, governing with professionalism has been up largely left up to congressional Republicans. They should have been providing at least a semblance of consistency, guidance and leadership - at this point, the US and the world desperately need it.

Unfortunately, Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate have not been up to the task. Instead of picking up the slack and guiding a moody president with few clear goals and even fewer ideas to translate them into policy, congressional Republicans have joined Donald Trump's amateur hour.

Gambling with health care

The same politicians who have railed the past eight years against Obama's health care achievements have now failed to prepare a viable legislative alternative that can muster enough Republican votes to pass. This is unprofessional in the extreme.

Michael Knigge Kommentarbild App

DW Washington correspondent Michael Knigge

On top of that, they have repeatedly scheduled votes only to have to scrap them again later. This pattern is disconcerting, because it shows that congressional Republican leaders not only hold little sway over their colleagues, but also that they are willing to gamble even on signature legislative efforts like health care.                                  

The repeated recklessness of gambling with health care, which accounts for roughly 18 percent of the country's gross domestic product and affects millions of Americans, has life-or-death consequences. It puts Americans who are currently enrolled under the Affordable Care Act in limbo again over whether they will have access to medical insurance in the future, and again raises the insecurity for the various players with a stake in the health care market. As a result, the US dollar dropped to an 11-month low against the euro.

Given the track record of congressional Republicans and President Trump up to now, it would seem overly optimistic to expect them to finally step up their game and do what they were elected to do: govern with professionalism. Perhaps a more realistic outlook is that we will have to wait for next year's midterm elections to see what Americans think of being governed by the GOP.   

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