Here are 7 ways Trump could still destroy the Affordable Care Act through administrative action (or inaction).
1. Confess error in a judicial dispute with House Republicans, who claim money to fund subsidies for low-income insurance buyers wasn’t properly authorized. But without such money, Affordable Care Act markets in most states will unravel quickly and leave millions without insurance.
2. Allow Anthem’s $54 billion acquisition of Cigna. Obama’s Justice Department had opposed it, and it’s now on appeal. But permitting it will reduce the market for national insurers from four to three, thereby reducing competition on the Affordable Care Act exchanges – which means higher premiums and bigger co-payments and deductibles. (It seems likely Trump’s Justice Department will allow the acquisition, given that Trump intends to name as head of the Antitrust Division White House lawyer Makan Delrahim, who lobbied on behalf of Anthem’s acquisition just last year.)
3. Don’t recruit insurers to participate in markets where competition is thin. The Obama administration actively urged insurance companies to participate. If Trump doesn’t, or actively discourages them, more markets could end up with just one company.
4. Simply weaken enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for individuals to purchase insurance. Yes, it’s the law, but if it’s not enforced many people will just disregard it.
5. Make it harder for people to sign up for plans midyear.
6. Give insurers more leeway to raise their deductibles.
7. Give states waivers from the Affordable Care Act to reshape their local insurance markets and Medicaid programs as they wish – imposing higher premiums, and even work requirements for Medicaid recipients.
What’s stopping Trump from doing all this and thereby bringing about the Affordable Care Act’s collapse? He’ll be blamed, because the collapse will occur on his watch. Many of its beneficiaries were Trump voters.
What do you think?
Trump is humiliated. He lost big on health care. (I said “bigly” in an earlier post, which irked several of you.) He’s already attacking the Republican Speaker of the House. The White House is in chaos. His national security advisor had to resign. FBI investigators are getting closer to finding connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Business Republicans are openly criticizing him for lying (see last week’s Wall Street Journal editorial).
Trump seems to be melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.
But before you breathe a sigh of relief, know this:
1. Trump’s people are now installed in almost every Cabinet department – people like DeVos at education, Pruitt at the EPA, and Sessions at Justice – with enormous power to repeal regulations Americans rely on, fail to enforce laws that should be enforced, and put in place new rules and regulations that hurt average people and the poor.
2. Republicans still control Congress, and many are eager to do exactly what Trump wants to do with the federal budget – expand the military and cut safety-net programs that low-income Americans depend on.
3. Trump still has his bully pulpit, and will continue to tell big lies and unleash hatefulness and bigotry across the land.
4. He still has the ability to install at least one Supreme Court justice, and possibly more — tipping the Court in a more conservative direction for years if not a generation.
5. He has almost complete control over foreign policy, has installed Steven Bannon as a principal on the National Security Council, and is utterly ignorant about the rest of the world. He could jeopardize the future of NATO, and might even start a major war.
In other words, while we can take some satisfaction from how bad it’s been for Trump lately, he’s still in power. And he will continue to be until or unless he’s impeached, removed under the 25th amendment, or thrown out of office in 2020. Between now and then, he and his administration can do great harm.
So keep up the fight. Continue to mobilize and organize. The resistance has just begun. And remember: Even when we triumph over Trump, we still have a long way to go.
What do you think?
Trump’s Sunday morning tweet: “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!’’
Translated: “I lost bigly because of the Koch Brothers and a handful of other right-wing billionaires shafted me.”
Follow the money: The “Freedom Caucus” are the 36 House Republicans who opposed Trumpcare. These 36 get lots of funding from the “Club for Growth” and “Heritage Action” (as do Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz, who encouraged the Freedom Caucus to hold their ground).
The Club for Growth is funded by ultra-rich right-wing donors like Peter Thiel (their largest donor), leverage-buyout specialist John Childs, New Jersey investor Virginia James, the Koch brothers, and others in the Koch network.
Heritage Action, part of the Heritage Foundation, gets a big part of its funding from the Koch brothers and others in the Koch network.
So the biggest split in the Republican House right now is between traditional conservative Republicans funded by big business and Wall Street, and Freedom Caucus Republicans funded by billionaire right-wing ideologues like Thiel and the Kochs. Trump sided with the latter group and got shafted by the former.
Notice that Trump’s white working class voters are nowhere to be seen in any of this. They never were.
What do you think?
I’m a Democratic Socialist who is waiting to kick some conservative Republican ass in 2018.
This week, Republicans showed us they care more about scoring political points than the well-being of Americans. We must show them that we won’t stand for it.