Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) made business mogul Donald Trump look silly during Thursday's GOP debate by pointing out that Trump had no real plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
It was one of Rubio’s best moments yet -- and probably distracted many viewers from the fact that Rubio doesn’t really have an alternative, either.
The exchange happened after Trump got a question from CNN’s Dana Bash, asking Trump to offer details on his Obamacare replacement scheme. Trump, as usual, promised that he would create something “wonderful” and mentioned that he would remove barriers to purchasing insurance across state lines.
Conservatives have long supported this idea, on the theory that it will create more competition, thereby bringing down the cost of health insurance. Liberals have long opposed it, at least it the absence of a national health insurance scheme, on the theory that the insurance industry would end up looking like the credit card industry -- with carriers gravitating to the states with the loosest regulations on benefits and sales practices.
But whatever the relative merits of the idea, it’s simply not a way to provide insurance to tens of millions of people who, in the absence of some kind of universal health program, could not get coverage either because they have pre-existing conditions or simply don’t have the money to pay for premiums. In other words, by itself, it’s not a replacement for Obamacare -- or any other major health reform.
Rubio pounced on this -- pointing out, in a rebuttal to Trump, that the real estate mogul didn’t really have a plan. Rubio went on to note that Trump was simply making the same point over and over again about the perils of “drawing lines” around states, and really had nothing else of substance to say.
Rubio was right about that. Trump has talked a lot about health care, but when it comes to policy, he’s produced the equivalent of policy word salad -- a bunch of buzzwords that don’t even add up to coherent principles, let alone a plan.
But Rubio himself hasn’t done much better. The health care plan on his website is basically a set of talking points that are only slightly more detailed than what Trump has offered.