DeSantis and Trump need a fresh message. Their attacks on Obamacare have gotten stale | Opinion

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So now it’s Ron DeSantis announcing plans to go after Obamacare.

Sounds awfully familiar — and exceedingly out of touch with voters.

It was only last week that former President Donald Trump made threats against Obamacare, the increasingly popular healthcare insurance program that Florida has embraced more than any other state. He said on social media that he was “seriously looking at alternatives” and urged Republicans to “Never give up!”

Not to be outdone by his opponent for the Republican nomination for president — and as the January Iowa caucuses creep ever closer — DeSantis had something to say during a TV interview over the weekend. He also attacked the Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare) and promised to come up with a “better plan.” And yet, like Trump, there’s no actual plan to discuss.

Conveniently, the Florida governor’s plan won’t be released until spring. The way things are going, it’s pretty unlikely he’ll be a presidential contender at that point.

This all feels so old and tired. How long have we been hearing about how Republicans would “repeal and replace” Obamacare? At least back to 2017, when Sen. John McCain stymied their efforts to ditch the ACA. Republicans really have to come up with something else to say.

It doesn’t matter how they dress it up, either. Trump has his “alternatives” while DeSantis promised to “replace and supersede.” It’s all the same thing in different words, and it hasn’t gotten anywhere. Meanwhile, more and more people continue to enroll in Obamacare plans, making the prospects of repealing it even tougher and potentially alienating a whole lot of voters who depend on their insurance plans if they are pulled out from under them.

A record 3.2 million people in Florida had obtained health insurance under the ACA as of early this year, a 19% increase over the previous year. Nationwide, that number reached 15.7 million.

And Obamacare was signed into law 13 years ago. That’s a pretty long time, long enough for people to get used to it. All this talk of replacing it with no real actual way to do it is a political ploy, nothing more. People may not love their insurance plans on Obamacare, but you could say that about a lot of insurance plans, even the ones provided by employers.

Trump, of course, is great at this kind of thing. He loves to casually toss out ideas with no intention of pursuing them. He knows most people won’t follow up or remember the promises he made and broke. He just riles up the crowd and moves on.

DeSantis, Trump’s protegee, apparently has learned at least that lesson from the ex-president. The governor’s NBC “Meet the Press” interview featured a bunch of great-sounding words — “more transparency, more consumer choice, more affordable options, less red tape, less bureaucracy weighing everybody down” — but no concrete plan.

But he did use that opportunity to try, once again, to make the case that he’s not just another Trump-like figure on the campaign trail. He criticized Trump for not following through on multiple vows to dismantle Obamacare, saying: “This is part of a pattern where he’s running on things that he didn’t do.”

The interview was conducted as DeSantis announced he’d held events in all 99 Iowa counties, part of his big bet on the state to give him momentum heading into the early primaries. And yet Trump continues to lead the GOP field by wide margins, as much as 40% ahead of DeSantis.

Maybe that’s what gave DeSantis the impetus to offer his version of a healthcare fairy tale, just like Trump. “Here’s what I will do. What I think they’re going to need to do is have a plan that will supersede Obamacare that will lower prices for people so that they can afford healthcare while also making sure that people with pre-existing conditions are protected.”

Promises, promises.