Until Tuesday, President Trump and Stephen K Bannon did a good job of keeping their base happy. They threw out red meat on immigration, ruthlessly attacked the press, cooked up an anti-Barack Obama conspiracy (to replace the birther conspiracy) and continued to talk tough on trade. If his actions and rhetoric horrified all Democrats, most independents, some thinking Republicans and the press, he did not care. Keep the base happy, stick to the nativist, protectionist Bannon hymnal.
Then on Tuesday, Trump embraced the GOP healthcare bill, which will keep or even expand the “administrative state” and which has been vilified by conservatives. He tweeted, “Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster — is imploding fast!” Trump also said after a meeting with members, “We’re going to do something that’s great. And I am proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives.”
Now, whatever you think of the merits, it won’t pass as currently designed. Moreover, it is especially harmful to Trump’s lower-income, older Rust Belt supporters.
The Kaiser Foundation has a user-friendly map and calculator which shows which states (most of them) and which counties specifically would pay more under the GOP American Health Care Act and which pay more under the Affordable Care Act. In almost every single county in Iowa, Michigan and Ohio, a 60-year-old with $30,000 in income would pay more for coverage… Congratulations, House Republicans and Trump, you’re on the side of rich New England millennials. Seriously, this would be a tragedy for the “forgotten” Americans and hence a political disaster for Trump.
From a political and policy standpoint, the smart move would have been to deplore the bill and tell the House to go back to work. Instead, Trump tied himself to the mast of a sinking ship…
Democrats considering a run in 2020 must be delighted. “Trump’s no friend of the working man,” they will claim. “He’s just as mean-spirited as every other Republican,” they will say. Democrats will hang the GOP healthcare bill around the necks of Republican incumbents. GOP voters who will be enraged [that] the party did not do what it promised may sit home, or vote for challengers…
I find it hard to believe that in the end Trump won’t hang the House Republicans out to dry. (That would please Bannon, who has had a temporary truce with [Paul] Ryan.) He will need to distance himself from the impending disaster. We’ll have to wait and see how he does it.
How Trump Blew It on Healthcare
Do check out the KFF interactive graph. It’s amazing. Compare how the the House bill will affect people making $20,000 per year with people making $75,000 per year. This will not make Trump’s base happy — assuming they notice.