US President Donald J. Trump participates in a health care discussion in the White House in Washington, DC , USA, 10 March 2017.
SHAWN THEW/EPA

Trump doesn’t deny punishing his base with his health care plan

Updated
One of the most politically striking aspects of the Republican health care plan is the degree to which it punishes the party’s own base. The Americans who stand to lose the most from the American Health Care Act, which some have labeled “Trumpcare,” are many of the same folks who backed Donald Trump in large numbers last fall.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” this week, the New York Times’ David Brooks said the Republican plan is effectively “declaring war on their own voters.”

On Fox News last night, Tucker Carlson asked the GOP president about this, and Trump offered an unexpectedly candid response.
CARLSON: This bill has, as one of its centerpieces, a tax cut for investors that would primarily benefit people making over $250,000 a year. Already done pretty well in the past 10 years, as you know. A Bloomberg analysis showed that counties that voted for you, middle class and working class counties, would do far less well under this bill than the counties that voted for Hillary, the more affluent counties.

TRUMP: Oh, I know. I know.
When the host highlighted the asymmetry, suggesting “maybe this isn’t consistent with the message of the last election,” the president responded, “A lot of things aren’t consistent.”

Trump added, by way of an argument, that the policy implications are “very preliminary” and in the process of being “negotiated.”

In other words, the president is conceding that the evidence is true, and his health care proposal really will punish key segments of his electoral base. I suppose there’s something vaguely refreshing about the fact that Trump didn’t deny reality; I more or less expected him to respond to the question by saying the facts are “fake news,” cooked up by nefarious conspirators, who are no doubt in league with Barack Obama, George Soros, and Bigfoot, all of whom are working to obscure the fact that his core supporters would all get free ice cream and ponies as a result of “Trumpcare.”

Instead, Trump implicitly acknowledged reality. He knows his bill will punish his supporters; he knows it will require him to break key promises he made to the nation; but at least for now, the president is content to assume he and his team will figure out solutions later.

New York’s Jonathan Chait added, “Whether or not he realized it at the time, Trump was essentially filming an attack ad that could be used against any member of Congress who votes for the bill…. Why would any Republican vote for a bill knowing they can be hit with an ad showing Trump admitting the plan harms their voters?”

If GOP lawmakers aren’t asking themselves the same question, they’re not paying close enough attention.

Donald Trump and Health Care

Trump doesn't deny punishing his base with his health care plan

Updated