The death panels Sarah Palin concocted in 2008 after then GOP presidential nominee John McCain picked her as his vice presidential running mate never existed in reality. Even though the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA] contained no real language that actually created her so-called death panels, that wasn't a problem for the winking girl from Wasilla, Alaska, who parlayed her time in the national spotlight into fame and fortune.
A real life death panel Palin missed talking about—the GOP Majority Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives—engaged in an act of Hari Kari. Sudden death came when House speaker Paul Ryan, who like Palin in 2008 became the GOP's pick for vice president in 2012, admitted defeat at repealing and replacing the ACA, best known as Obamacare, by his bill—The American Health Care Act—from a floor vote. Had Mr. Ryan let that vote proceed, it would have killed it dead like Palin said her fictional death panels would do to so many Americans forced to live under President Barack Obama's signature legislative accomplishment.
As people from across the nation swarmed into town hall meetings called by their elected representatives in Washington, speaker Ryan and his partner in crime, President Donald Trump, learned that all their misleading, misguiding and misbegotten lore about how big a disaster Obamacare has been, America's fondness for the program that reined in the excesses of the private for-profit health care market reached new highs, as calls to some Republicans reached 1,000 to keep it versus 1 to toss it out.
Republicans were doomed either way they went. If they ran off the cliff to placate the Big Orange Man in the White House who called for an up-or-down vote, they would have shown how craven they were to the lives of so many millions who before Obamacare lived in fear of going bankrupt or dying. Had a vote been taken and as many as 30 or more Republicans balked at supporting Ryancare or Trumpcare, the aura of infallibility the White House has draped itself in would have exploded like a North Korean missile shortly after launch.
President Trump wants to move on now, but investigation by the FBI of him and his campaign cronies ties to Russia could be another death panel for the 70-old New York billionaire whose inexperience and fumbling in the art of the public deal killed passing a very bad bill.
Democrats, independents and progressives can bask in the satisfaction that they defeated the Big Orange Machine and its army of Republican senators and House members on an issue so central to their core being that they spent seven years battling against it, only to fall victim to it in the end.
But now, with victory fresh in their rear view mirror, everyone opposed to Ryancare or Trumpcare should gear up for the coming battles of the budget and tax reform. The same people that brought you a decidedly disastrous bill on health care will be pushing for equally bad bills to trim the budget in harmful ways to nearly everyone but the super wealthy and reform an already disastrous tax code that subsidizes the rich at the expense of the poor.
Revel in yesterday's defeat, but remember that tomorrow will be equally dangerous if the resistance pulls up short in energy or commitment.