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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

How many Jedi mind tricks can Republicans successfully play on a weary American public? Their powers to plant suggestions in the minds of many voters, coaxing them to turn on their own health care security, are undeniable. But can the magic go on forever?

Implanting the idea of repealing Obamacare now in return for a mystery plan in some unspecified future would be a mind trick for the ages. It’s also a transparent setup. Get rid of the Affordable Care Act, and then — with the protections gone — make an offer the public can’t refuse: Our crumbs or nothing.

Such audacity is clearly an act of desperation. The public hasn’t exactly cheered the so-called Republican moderates’ plan to slash benefits and strip coverage for many millions — or conservative proposals to basically ditch the health reforms altogether. Polls gave the House GOP plan a pathetic 16 percent approval rating and the Republican Senate version only 17 percent.

If you can’t sell a program on the details, get rid of the details. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska started the ball rolling by urging the immediate repeal of “as much of Obamacare as is possible” while not taking away benefits for a year. President Trump says he’s on board.

Conservative lawmakers who condemned the House and Senate proposals as too nice are especially enthusiastic. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky tweeted, “Let’s keep our word to repeal then work on replacing right away.”

Now, if you’re going to replace Obamacare in short order, why repeal it right away? And if you’re going to leave Obamacare benefits in place for a year, why not repeal it in a year? What’s the hurry?

This makes zero sense unless the real agenda is to put off the pain of losing Obamacare until it’s too late to stop the dismantling. Stave off a public revolt while setting the timer ticking to automatically destruct the program a few months hence.

In a similar fashion, the Senate bill would delay the cuts in benefits until after the midterm elections. Clever, no?

While congressional action grabs most of the attention, a bigger and sneakier threat to the Affordable Care Act is already in motion. It is Plan B: Destabilize the insurance markets that have kept Obamacare afloat. And you don’t need legislation to do that.

From his first day in office, President Trump has been sabotaging the insurance markets from behind the scenes. He cut off funding for ads during the Obamacare enrollment period. He threatened to pull Obamacare subsidies for low-income people. He issued a call to stop the IRS from enforcing the mandate to obtain coverage.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, for example, has publicly blamed its planned rate hike of 23 percent on uncertainty from the government. Otherwise, the increase would have been 9 percent.

The Affordable Care Act has certainly had problems, but they were fixable. Premiums were already stabilizing, and enrollment was set to boom until Trump and fellow gremlins got out the monkey wrenches — creating a “crisis” to freak out the insurers and pressure the public.

As for the visible efforts to doom Obamacare, serial failure seems to have left foes with the ultimate fantasy gambit: Offer a definite repeal and an invisible replacement.

This could be a mind trick too far. May the Force be with those unwilling to submit.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at


Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)