Saturday, December 17, 2016


It's easy to be distracted by Donald Trump's tweeting or his demagoguery, but we know that law-making in the Trump years will be the familiar reactionary, turn-the-clock-back, party-first Republicanism we've seen in North Carolina and Wisconsin and Kansas, as well as in the halls of Congress since the 2010 midterms, except cranked up to 11, and with no Democratic counterweight. We know this just from looking at Trump's Cabinet picks, and from his obvious comfort with the GOP's promises to slash the social safety net until there's no net left.

This is clear to you and me -- but clearly not to Robert H. Frank of The New York Times. Frank tries to imagine what's going to happen to Obamacare in Trump's all-GOP Washington, and he preposterously asserts that Trump might want to be Bernie Sanders.
Bad times are looming for health insurance. If Mr. Trump wants to avoid a political buzz saw, what might he do? Unlike Republican congressional leaders, he seems to have no ideological commitment to a largely unregulated, and hence untenable, private health insurance system. And he has already demonstrated that Republican base voters will side with him rather than their congressional leaders.

The upshot is that, unlike President Obama, he may actually have the political power to enact the most sensible system for providing basic universal health coverage: the single-payer approach taken by most other developed countries. Older Americans have been covered under a single-payer system since the 1965 enactment of Medicare, which delivers basic health coverage more cost effectively than private insurance plans can, and which they are of course free to supplement with private insurance.

But having just announced plans to phase out Medicare, Republicans are extremely unlikely to voluntarily embrace a single-payer insurance option for all Americans, and Mr. Trump’s true intentions are, to say the least, unclear.
(Emphasis added.)

Trump has "no ideological commitment" to a for-profit market in health care? Trump's intentions are "unclear"? Has Frank looked at Trump's Cabinet? The plutocrats, the privatizers (Betsy deVos, Ben Carson, Rick Perry), the Ayn Rand fans (Rex Tillerson, Andy Puzder, Mike Pompeo), and, of course, Tom Price, the Obamacare scourge who's going to be health and human services secretary? Is Frank seriously arguing that Trump might put together this Kochite dream team and then say, "Y'know, what I really want is Medicare for All"?

At least Frank doesn't expect the GOP Congress to magically turn into the reformed Scrooge on Christmas morning, although the way Frank words this -- "Republicans are extremely unlikely to voluntarily embrace a single-payer insurance option for all Americans" -- suggests that he thinks there's a nonzero chance. In fact, there's no chance whatsoever. Jeff Sessions is more likely to lead a Black Lives Matter protest that Republicans are "to voluntarily embrace a single-payer insurance option."

Will media dupes ever stop predicting that Trump might govern as a non-conservative? Trump may throw in a touch of paleoconservatism or "national greatness" conservatism (the infrastructure promises), but that's as eclectic as he's going to get. Mostly, he's going to govern from the rightmost point of the mainstream right. Please stop imagining otherwise.


Never Ben Better said...

Still desperately trying to normalize the looming disaster. Denial is strong in this one.

Victor said...

Yes, and pigs will sing "Fly Me to the Moon" while airborne, and poop-out gold coins to us plebe's below!


Cirze said...

Well, he had to do something with his pre-written column. Getting paid is important!

The New York Crank said...

There's a song for that:

Crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Joey Blau said...

Mike Pence will work with Paul Ryan and Mitch M will go along as they dismantle any progressive programs they can get their hands on. Then they will enact religious tests and requirements regarding sex and abortion. Then allow states to enact all the voting restrictions, anti gay discrimination and anti immigrant policies they want.

Trump will fly around and make speeches and "deals" and maybe grab a bit of pussy. that is all.

Ken_L said...

I know pundits have to earn their pay but even so, ignoring the plain meaning of a candidate's policy position to speculate they intend to do something completely different, in the face of the available evidence, is preposterous.

Trump's position is clear: "Repeal and replace Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)." There's no reason to think he doesn't mean it.