Will Trump voters punish him for lies about healthcare?
Donald Trump has a looooooong history of lying and deceiving those who put faith in his name. Take, for instance, Trump University, which scammed veterans and widows with promises of imminent riches by Trump imparting his wisdom. That lie and the deceitful and fraudulent methods by which Trump shoved his fake university down the throats of the financially susceptible led to the president settling a civil lawsuit for $25 million (despite Trump saying he “never settles“). Or take any number of investors fleeced by Trump when he gave up on development projects after parties had already purchased condos, sure that the Trump name would leave them with a new home or investment property in what would assuredly be a glamorous building.
And yet, despite these many well-publicized and admittedly obvious instances of deception, 62 million people still voted for Donald J. Trump, many — if not most — because they believed him. They believed Trump would fight for them and their interests. They believed Trump would bring his alleged business acumen to the White House and through efficiency and economy in dealmaking and government, his power to make money and would enrich his supporters through beneficial policy changes. Never mind that others with the same mistaken preconceptions left their Trump tango in financial ruin (fool me once…).
These voters trusted Donald Trump to do one thing in particular: repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. How could they not? Throughout the campaign, Trump promised, repeatedly, that he would repeal the ACA on his first day in office — and replace it with something much better. (The Washington Post has a great compilation of those promises here.) But that didn’t happen.
The American Healthcare Act (AHCA, or Trumpcare) fulfilled none of Trump’s pledges. Here’s Trump promising “insurance for everyone” and below is the graph of the number covered by insurance had the AHCA passed.
Far from covering everyone, the AHCA would have increased the number without insurance by 24 million. Yikes.
Furthermore, the plan’s burden would have fallen most heavily on those who voted for Trump. The AHCA amounted, more or less, to wealth redistribution — but not in the typical sense. Wealthy Americans, such as the president himself, would have received a substantial tax cut paid for by slashing Medicaid subsidies, thus taking from individuals their ability to afford healthcare. A 64 year old with a $15,000 annual income would have spent more than half of that on healthcare premiums. The bill would have disproportionately hurt Trump voters, a fact to which Trump himself readily admitted. Yet he said he was “100% behind the House bill” and lobbied hard to acquire the votes needed for its passage.
The vote failed because Trump grew tired of negotiating. How long did Trump spend working with lawmakers to arrive a compromise that would cover his voters and others in the country? 17 days. It took 17 days for Trump to violate two major campaign promises: One, repealing the ACA, and two, replacing it with something “much, much better.”
Trump supporters believed he would be an ally in the White House; they pinned their hopes on his ability to craft deals and fight for the common man. The result? He backed a healthcare bill that would give himself a tax cut and his voters’ expense and then gave up in the bill when the going got tough.
Surely, after learning about the details of the AHCA and Trump’s pathetic, half-hearted attempt to push it through Congress, his voters would rebel or at least begin to lose faith in The Donald.
Nope. Trump voters overwhelmingly blame Paul Ryan, establishment Republicans, and Democrats for the AHCA’s failure (seemingly forgetting that Trump through his name and political capital behind the doomed effort). Even his total willingness to abandon healthcare reform does not phase them. Trump’s popularity with the nation may be falling, but support among his base remains firmly intact.
Why do these voters continue to support a liar and a conman? It’s hard to say. Perhaps they’re still smitten by Trump’s demagoguery and authoritarian appeal. Perhaps they enjoy scapegoating others in order to maintain their image of Trump as an American savior. Perhaps they simply don’t realize that Trump’s actions throughout his real estate career and brief but tumultuous presidential tenure have shown an interest in just one person: Himself. The rest be damned.
And so the Trump Train roars on, paused not in defeat, but plowing harder and screaming louder for the removal of those in the way of promised glory. What lies ahead is predictable to all — Trump will fight for himself (there’s a reason he’s so interested in tax reform) and ignore the working man and woman — except his base.
We must hope that at some point, they recognize that Trump is simply a charlatan working to pad his pocketbook and bank account while thrusting the costs of his idiotic and ignorant actions on those who can bear it least.