The repeal of the ACA individual mandate has been appended to the corporate tax cut bill the GOP is advancing through Congress. It is in the bill at the specific request of the President. It may be there to function just like one of the arbitrary rules in some competition on The Apprentice.
If Trump is capable of strategy at all, one imagines it’s of sort he and his producers used on television: the fixed frame of a weekly competition is modified on the fly with arbitrary rules designed to build tension that the competitors cannot resolve on their own, setting it up so that the audience must wait through the final commercials break to see how Emperor Trump ends the story.
It is a feature of this strategy, not a bug, that the Emperor is an empty shell, capable of generating the entire range of human affect and speech, but not actually human. The producers can splice the components together in a way that feels like human intelligence. But an actual functioning human brain behind the production would ruin the program. Actual human brains generate patterns of behavior—the thing we call “character”—and those patterns can be anticipated.
Simon Cowell, for example, has character. His surface similarity to Trump is down the fact that Cowell has terrible character, which often resembles the absence of character, but it is very different. Bad character is within the range of normal human behavior and can be predicted. Eventually, we get bored with it because we know what’s coming. That’s when they bring in Jennifer Lopez.
Every reality competition show—except The Apprentice—has at least an element of testing genuine human talent or skill. Being the best dancer, the best designer, the best puzzle-solver or the best obstacle course runner may not absolutely determine the winner on competition shows, but it helps.
The Apprentice, on the other hand, is completely arbitrary. The business competitions take place in absurd circumstances and the results are totally meaningless. There is no substance. Only Trump.
And so we have a corporate tax cut bill working it’s way through a Republican Congress. It is a bizarre and unpopular hodgepodge which contains exactly one provision specifically requested by Trump: a repeal of the individual mandate in the ACA, without which the ACA will collapse as insurers pull out of the marketplaces.
Unlike previous ACA repeal bills, this “tax reform” may make it to the President’s Desk where he can sign it or veto it. He may very well, on live TV, turn to the audience and say, “What do you think? Who should I fire?” Thanks to the provision that Trump himself specifically requested, his decision will determine whether 10 million or so people lose their health insurance
Imagine the ratings!
What will he do? If he were human, we could guess. If he were capable of reason or empathy, we could try to influence him. But he’s an empty shell. We literally have no choice but to tune in.
Jesus, I hate this show.