Juan Williams: Trump allies warn of health care folly

If you are a Trump voter, why trust me?

Let’s go to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE’s toadies in Congress and see what they have to say about his Justice Department’s call last week to push the federal courts to kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Rep. Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedRepublicans' rendezvous with reality — their plan is to cut Social Security The Democratic plan for smaller paychecks House passes bill to update tax code to help same-sex married couples MORE (R-N.Y.), one of Trump’s strong backers, bluntly told The Washington Post that the president’s order to the Justice Department is “not the smartest move.” He explained that doing away with the current law without having a replacement ready to go “leaves millions of Americans in harm’s way and they didn’t do anything.”

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And here’s a Republican voice with enough distance from Trump to get the joke:

“We couldn’t repeal and replace it with a Republican House," Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (R-Tenn.) said, also to the Post, while laughing at the memory. He also pointed out the obvious: the House is now under the control of a Democratic majority.

Now let’s go to Trump’s biggest enablers. Oh, they’re not talking.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' MORE (R-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi, Schumer press for gun screenings as Trump inches away The malware election: Returning to paper ballots only way to prevent hacking First House Republican backs bill banning assault weapons MORE (R- Ky.) want no part of this political suicide.

Here’s a tweet from Josh Holmes, McConnell’s former top aide. He opens in predictable Republican fashion by bashing Democrats for trying to expand ObamaCare but ends with a surprise for Trump.

“Dear GOP,” Holmes wrote, “When Democrats are setting themselves ablaze by advocating the destruction of American healthcare, try to resist the temptation of asking them to pass the kerosene.”

What about the cabinet?

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries Mueller report fades from political conversation Barr removes prisons chief after Epstein death MORE both told the White House not to do it, according to several reports.

And here is more dissent, this time from the conservatives at The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page.

Destroying ObamaCare without a replacement plan means angering millions of Americans who “now rely on the law for health insurance,” the paper editorialized.

As for the long-promised, fantastic replacement plan, the Journal wrote: “If there’s some new emerging GOP consensus, we haven’t heard about it.”

Okay, so even the people who have been making excuses for Trump are not looking the other way on this one.

Why?

The answer is that angering voters by destroying the ACA would be a political catastrophe.

Health care stands out as the top reason the GOP lost 41 seats and control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections.

According to the 2018 exit polls, 41 percent of voters identified health care as the most important issue to them. Fifty-seven percent of voters said Democrats are the better of the two parties at protecting people with pre-existing conditions.

And heading into the 2020 elections, healthcare remains a loser for the GOP.

A poll taken by the Kaiser Family Foundation in mid-March found that fifty percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of ObamaCare.

Every one of the Democrats running for president are celebrating the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Several are promoting the idea of “Medicare for All” and “single-payer.” They know voters elected a class of freshman House Democrats who campaigned on these ideas.

An analysis of the television advertising in the 2018 campaign by Kantar Media confirms this political reality. It found advertising for Democratic congressional candidates mentioned healthcare one million times.

AdWeek’s Jason Lynch wrote after the midterms that healthcare-themed advertising “account(ed) for 49 percent of all Democrat ads overall and 59 percent of all Democratic ads for House races.”

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Meanwhile, 367,000 Republican advertisements — only one-third of the Democratic total — mentioned health care, according to the Kantar analysis. The Republicans preferred to focus on tax reform, immigration and low unemployment. That proved to be a loser for Republicans.

But the president is looking to stir his hardcore base for the 2020 campaign.

Attacking ObamaCare is a potential sop to the Ann Coulter faction of his base who correctly point out he has not lived up to his promise to build the wall — and have Mexico pay.

Will it work? Here is James Capretta, a health care expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, on CNN last week.

"The president, I don't think, really has any idea what he's really saying there,” Capretta said. “It's more of a promotional and marketing impulse on his part. It leaves Republicans open to…ridicule by the Democrats that they don't have a plan."

But Trump is not convinced:

“We are going to have great healthcare. The Republican Party will be the party of great healthcare. You watch,” the president told Sean Hannity last week.

If this legal takedown works, Trump will take all the credit. But Republicans in Congress know they will take the blame for leaving millions without health insurance.

That’s why Trump’s tribe in Congress is not lining up on this one.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.