We now have a clear idea of where President Trump wants to take us, thanks to the Republican Health Care bill and the president’s budget. And for many of the voters who put him in office based on his talk, his walk is not taking them where they expected.
The central theme of his campaign was that he would “Make America Great Again” by (among other things) bringing back coal and steel jobs, and other manufacturing jobs, and by providing universal medical coverage at a fraction of the cost under the Affordable Care Act, without compelling anyone to get insurance. His health care bill and his budget make clear that he has no intention of actually doing any of that.
The Congressional Budget Office analysis of the GOP health bill makes clear that 24 million more people will lose their insurance over the next decade, due to repeal of the individual mandate and cutbacks in Medicaid. And it’s precisely in the depressed rural areas like Appalachia (as well as in the inner cities) where this will bite. So people in depressed coal towns and farming country who voted for Trump will now find that they can no longer afford insurance.
Trump's budget imposes draconian cuts on virtually all domestic programs, many of which provide help for poor people, including not only health care, but assistance in heating their homes, rent subsidies, school lunches, Head Start, and community development.
Take this former coal miner with multiple health issues, who has:
put his hopes in Trump, who came to West Virginia saying he would bring back coal and put miners back to work. When Trump mentioned repealing Obamacare, Clyde wasn’t sure what that might mean for his Medicaid. But if he had a job that provided health insurance, he reasoned, he wouldn’t need Medicaid anyway, so he voted for Trump, along with 74 percent of McDowell County.
But the budget makes clear that Trump has no plan to bring back those jobs. It imposes draconian cuts on virtually all domestic programs, many of which provide help for poor people, including not only health care, but assistance in heating their homes, rent subsidies, school lunches, Head Start, and community development. Trump depends entirely on deregulation (e.g., of workplace safety and environmental contamination) to encourage private employers to hire more people. If there’s anything we know from the Reagan and Bush eras, it is that “trickle down” doesn’t work: it only enriches those at the top.
And that, of course, is just what Trump has in mind. We could tell that from his cabinet and White House inner circle, which are stacked with Wall Street and Big Business types. He intends to manage the economy in the interests of precisely those sectors. He hopes to distract his working class base with “red meat” like gutting the EPA and building the wall, but that will only work for awhile: we’re still seeing letters to the editor on the theme, “give the guy a chance!”
But wait! what about the high tariffs and pressure on business to keep jobs in this country? Again, just look at who he has running the economy. These people are not going to start a trade war, when they have massive investments in the very countries with which we trade. And if they do start a trade war, that is no way to create more jobs.
A year out, when they have neither jobs nor health care, Trump’s base will know they’ve been had—again.