Welcome to Donald Trump’s new America, which takes a chainsaw to just about everything that would help the poor, sick and elderly and spends the money on a new arsenal for the Pentagon and building a wall for his border war with Mexico.
In short, he’s proposed disastrous changes in people’s lives, including the millions of low- and middle-class voters who were suckered into supporting him. There’s no better way to begin analyzing the devastating impact on the United States than to examine Trump’s health care plan.
Trump promised to repeal Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act — and replace it with a system that would magically cover everyone, lower premiums and end the individual mandate to buy health insurance. What he’s offered is a plan to throw an estimated 24 million people off the insurance rolls over the next decade, outrageously jack up premiums for seniors, gut Medicaid, and give the super-rich a huge tax break.
He’s done this with the help of House Republicans led by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). The GOP refused to lift a finger to improve the original ACA bill and began demanding its repeal before the ink was dry. House Republicans voted more than 50 times to get rid of Obamacare when they knew that action would be dead on arrival with Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
With absolutely no plan to offer that could turn Trump’s empty campaign promises into reality, Republicans put together a monstrosity of a health care bill and they are trying to jam it down our throats by not holding hearings on it. It doesn’t even sound like they bothered to read it to Trump, who in the initial days after the bill was introduced kept insisting it fulfilled all of his campaign pledges.
But a smug Ryan saw the plan thrown back in his face by many members of his own party who were tired of being screamed at in town hall meetings for the new administration’s blunders. Conservatives were wrong when they claimed the bill was just “Obamacare Lite,” but at this point who cares why it’s being opposed? The only thing that matters is for it to be quickly killed and never resurrected.
The GOP had more than six years to develop a better plan, and its final product is a shoddy, hastily thrown together mess. They wasted that time lying and moaning about Obamacare so they could use the voter backlash to also take control of the U.S. Senate and White House. Those ill-gotten political gains should be short-lived once the full impact of Trumpcare is fully understood by voters.
But will it be? Who can predict what will happen next after Trump has put American values in freefall while he punishes the most economically vulnerable people in our society and takes aim at minorities? After campaigning for a year and a half calling everything Obama touched a disaster, Trump has shown us what a real one looks like. We’re not only a laughingstock to the rest of the world, we’re much less secure because the president doesn’t have a clue about how to handle foreign affairs diplomatically.
Instead of accusing Obama of wiretapping him without a scintilla of evidence, surrounding himself with fascists and racists who guide his policies, and spending half the night bullying his enemies on Twitter, Trump should dump his plan and give the nation a health care plan that is actually about health care. It doesn’t matter whether or not he helped Ryan concoct this nightmare, Republicans now own it and Trump controls the party.
“We don’t own Obamacare,” said Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, one of the party’s leaders as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. “We are the rescue party. We campaigned to provide relief and help repair the damage.”
It doesn’t count as a rescue if the people who throw out a deflated life jacket are the ones who tossed you overboard. There are problems with the ACA, including a lack of competition and rising insurance rates, but in Wyoming those pitfalls were created by Republicans who refused to start a state-operated healthcare marketplace and rejected hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds.
If Trumpcare is approved and signed into law, Republicans would inflict untold damages on Americans that could be irreparable. Here is a list of only a few things it would bring us, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office:
- Fourteen million people would lose health insurance coverage in 2018 alone.
- Currently, insurers can charge older enrollees three times what they charge someone younger. The Republican plan would increase that from 3-to-1 to 5-to-1.
- A 64-year-old making $26,500 a year would pay about $1,700 in premiums right now. Under the proposed changes, that person would pay $14,600, more than eight times more.
- Medicaid would be slashed $880 billion during the next decade. Federal spending would be capped and the 19 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid would not be able to do so.
So Wyoming GOP lawmakers were right when they said the federal government can’t be trusted to keep funding Medicaid at current levels. But they can’t brag about that when their party is the one slashing and burning the Medicaid budget.
Losses would be much larger for older and lower-income consumers, who would also lose help with deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. Consumers’ costs would probably increase since the House plan would likely cause individual market premiums to rise. The Kaiser Family Foundation said overall tax credits for current marketplace consumers would be cut by more than half in Wyoming and nine other states.
Trump said the GOP plan would provide all Americans “greater access” to health care. The ACA, he incorrectly claims, gives people health insurance coverage that is essentially worthless because of high premiums and deductibles and increasingly fewer providers willing to sign up to provide insurance through Obamacare.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), who remains a painful thorn in Trump’s side and other parts of his anatomy, retorted on MSNBC that providing greater access to health care is like allowing people greater access to buy a Rolls-Royce. What good is access if the vast majority of people can’t afford it?
Americans should be talking about how Trumpcare must never be allowed to pass, plus myriad other subjects the president is trying to dodge: a disastrous budget proposal that harms low-income people and seniors while hastening environmental damage by removing key protections; the failure to release his tax returns and divest his assets to avoid blatant conflicts of interest; his unconstitutional ban on Muslims entering the country; and critical investigations that need to be made to ascertain whether Trump is loyal to the U.S. or Russia.
Instead, he’s got the media relentlessly focusing on his baseless claims that he was wiretapped by his predecessor. Trump is a master manipulator and con man who seems incapable of telling the truth. He acts more like a dictator than a president. He’s headed for a fall of epic presidential proportions, and we should all be worried that he will take the entire country down his bizarre and dangerous rabbit hole.
If you want to make it in Trump’s new America, earn a lot of money so your taxes will be cut, stop worrying if you’re drinking clean water and breathing clean air, and don’t grow so old or stay so poor that you become expendable to the government. And whatever you do, don’t get sick.