FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2020
Moderator moves on: Does information play any role in our national discourse? Consider a major non-exchange during last night's debate.
The question was posed to Donald J. Trump, and it was a very good question. It came at the start of Kristin Welker's third 15-minute segment:
WELKER (10/22/20): Let’s move on to American families and the economy. One of the issues that’s most important to them is healthcare, as you both know.
Today, there was a key vote on a new Supreme Court Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, and healthcare is at the center of her confirmation fight.
Over 20 million Americans get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. It’s headed to the Supreme Court, and your administration, Mr. President, is advocating for the Court to overturn it.
If the Supreme Court does overturn that law, there’s 20 million Americans could lose their health insurance almost overnight. So what would you do if those people have their health insurance taken away? You have two minutes uninterrupted.
That was a very good question.
If the administration has its way, the Supreme Court will overturn the Affordable Care Act. The hearing will take place on November 10.
If the Court overturns the ACA, twenty million people could lose their health insurance. What will Trump do if that occurs?
Welker had asked the commander in chief an extremely salient question. But in his two-minute response, the commander didn't answer the question. Instead, he offered this:
TRUMP (continuing directly): First of all, I’ve already done something that nobody thought was possible. Through the legislature, I terminated the individual mandate. That is the worst part of Obamacare, as we call it. The individual mandate, where you have to pay a fortune for the privilege of not having to pay for bad health insurance, I terminated. It’s gone. Now, it’s in court, because Obamacare is no good.
But then I made a decision—run it as well as you can. To my people, great people, run it as well as you can. I could have gone the other route and made everybody very unhappy. They ran it. Premiums are down. Everything’s down.
Here’s the problem. No matter how well you run it, it’s no good. What we’d like to do is terminate it. We have the individual mandate done. I don’t know that it’s going to work. If we don’t win, we will have to run it, and we’ll have Obamacare, but it’ll be better run. But it no longer is Obamacare, because without the individual mandate, it’s much different.
Pre-existing conditions will always stay. What I would like to do is a much better healthcare, much better. We’ll always protect people with pre-existing. So I’d like to terminate Obamacare, come up with a brand new, beautiful healthcare. The Democrats will do it, because there’ll be tremendous pressure on them. And we might even have the House by that time. And I think we’re going to win the House. You’ll see, but I think we’re going to win the House.
But come up with a better healthcare, always protecting people with pre-existing conditions. And one thing, very important, we have 180 million people out there that have great private healthcare. Far more than we’re talking about with Obamacare. Joe Biden is going to terminate all of those policies.
These are people that love their healthcare. People that have been successful, middle-income people, been successful. They have 180 million plans, 180 million people, families. Under what he wants to do, which will basically be socialized medicine, he won’t even have a choice, they want to terminate 180 million plans. We have done an incredible job at healthcare, and we’re going to do even better. Just you watch.
Trump said he got rid of the individual mandate. He said Obamacare stinks.
But what would he do if the law is struck down? As always, he said he'd like to come up with a better health care plan—and, as always, he gave no idea how such a plan would work.
As always, Trump's answer was pure tapioca. As always, the moderator sat there and took it.
She didn't ask him how this "much better" plan would work. She didn't ask him how he'd be able to afford the guarantee that people with preconditions would be covered.
Most significantly, in subsequent questioning, she didn't ask him this:
"Mr. President, you've been making this pledge for five years now. Why haven't you, or any other Republican, ever proposed such a plan?"
Just a guess:
Last night, most viewers had never heard that the president has never proposed a specific plan. They've never heard the comical rundown of all the times he has pledged that his proposal was just weeks away.
Also, most viewers have never heard that there's a major problem with being able to finance the guarantee the preconditions would be covered. Most people haven't heard discussions of topics like that.
Obamacare found a way to finance the coverage of preconditions. Why hasn't Trump ever said how he would accomplish this difficult task? Last night, once again, he simply wasn't asked.
After Biden gave his two-minute statement, Welker chose to challenge his health care proposal on the basis of a highly partisan Republican talking point. The emptiness of Trump's statement went unremarked.
Does information play any role in our national discourse? Welker asked Trump what he would do if Obamacare is overturned.
When he gave her the silliest possible answer, she simply agreed to move on.
Also this: Here's another follow-up question the president wasn't asked:
"Mr. President, you said that Vice President Biden wants to terminate the insurance of 180 million people. Since he hasn't made any such proposal, on what basis are you making a statement like that?"
Biden raised this objection on his own. As is common on such occasions, the moderator let Trump's statement go.