Trump’s most dramatic move yet to dismantle Obamacare will punish many of the poor people who voted for him and the rest who didn’t.
Whenever talk turns to Donald Trump’s enemies, the Democrats and the media are always assumed to be at the top of his hit list. This is a man, after all, who cries out “Fake News!” almost as often as he draws breath.
But Trump’s truest enemy isn’t any card-carrying journalist, progressive Democrat, or disgruntled member of the Deep State. It’s any American who doesn’t have much money.
The irony of Trump was always his tin pot populism, speaking to people’s economic anxiety while doing everything possible to screw them over. It’s a testament to his cult of personality that he even retains the little popularity he has.
Trump’s most dramatic move yet to dismantle Obamacare will surely punish many of the poor people who voted for him and the rest who didn’t. It will hurt the sickest and most vulnerable. More than anything else, that is Trump’s modus operandi.
On Thursday, the White House announced that it would scrap subsidies to health insurance companies that help pay out-of-pocket costs for low-income people. This move came hours after Trump said cheaper policies with fewer benefits and protections for consumers would eventually hit the market.
While some younger, healthier people could benefit from low-cost plans, both announcements threaten to further destabilize the Obamacare marketplace. If healthier people opt out of more comprehensive coverage, the cost of care for the oldest, sickest, and poorest will skyrocket.
Obamacare is imperfect, but it did promise coverage to people with preexisting conditions who, under the old system, would’ve been locked out of the healthcare market.
None of this matters to Trump. Since the Affordable Care Act – once upon a time, a market-driven approach to healthcare championed by conservatives – was Barack Obama’s signature achievement as president, it deserves to be destroyed. He cannot stomach anything related to the legacy of the first black president. If it carries Obama’s stamp, it must be eradicated.
Trump couldn’t do this legislatively because he had no serious alternative to Obamacare. Republicans in the Senate balked at his madness. Now, he will chip away at our healthcare system anyway he can, proving to his frothing base he is trying his best to eviscerate what Obama left behind.
The poor, of course, will be collateral damage, and in that way Trump is more your conventional 21st century Republican, only less organized in thought and action. Had Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz prevailed last year, they would also likely be in the process of trying rip healthcare away from people. The national Republican party is the plutocrat party. Its entire intellectual foundation rests on the assumption that the poorest and weakest deserve to suffer.
This isn’t to excuse Democrats, who have been too beholden to corporate interests. The greatest corrective to Obamacare, a public option, died during negotiations because insurance companies with plenty of clout in a Democratic Congress insisted they shouldn’t have to compete with a cheaper, government-run plan. Obamacare was good for insurance companies: it created new customers.
A single-payer, Medicare-for-all plan is the only humane answer here, though a public options could at least help stabilize markets. We know Trump has no interest in pursuing either path. He is a rich bully who fights for rich bullies. As vacuous as he is mean, he is willing to shred healthcare as we know it to make a point.
What he doesn’t understand is how much his own party will be blamed for this coming debacle. Barack Obama doesn’t live in the White House anymore. Republicans control every level of government. Were Trump a different kind of person – wiser, saner – he would probably give this some thought.