At a campaign rally in Las Vegas last night, Donald Trump peddled a variety of falsehoods, but one of the president’s claims seemed new. Referring to himself in third person, the Republican argued:
“When it comes to health insurance, Donald Trump and Republicans will protect patients with pre-existing conditions. We’re going to do that. We want to do it.”
The crowd roared with approval, which wasn’t too surprising. There’s overwhelming evidence that the vast majority of Americans – even the kind of folks who attend Trump rallies – strongly support the Affordable Care Act’s protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
The oddity, however, was the president’s boast. He was either brazenly lying or Trump somehow forgot his own position on the issue.
Whether he keeps up with current events or not, there’s currently a Republican lawsuit pending in federal court that’s trying to tear down the ACA’s existing protections for those pre-existing conditions. Trump not only refused to defend the current law in court, he also endorsed the litigation that would undermine Americans’ health security.
In other words, the president who’s taken steps to hurt those with pre-existing conditions now wants to be seen as the president who’ll protect those with pre-existing conditions.
But the lie runs deeper. Trump’s agenda includes pushing short-term plans, which not only undermine the marketplace, they also allow insurers to sell plans that – you guessed it – don’t fully protect Americans with pre-existing conditions.
And yet, there was the president last night, pretending to be a progressive Democrat when it comes to health care policy, hoping voters wouldn’t know the difference.
It must be an election season.
That said, perhaps this is an opportunity for Trump to turn over a new leaf. The way he specifically phrased his new position last night, he and his party “will” protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, adding, in apparent reference to the future, “We’re going to do that.”
Given everything we know, it certainly seemed as if the president was lying shamelessly, but if he wanted to prove his claim true, Trump could easily do so. He could, for example, condemn the pending Republican lawsuit that’s trying to take these protections away from American families. He could also urge the Justice Department to begin defending existing law in court.
Trump could also endorse pending legislation to guarantee existing protections in “Obamacare” in the event the GOP lawsuit succeeds, and demand his allies pass a bill before the midterm elections.
Is it likely the president will take any of these steps? Of course not. But the alternative is that Trump is lying to many of the same people he’s trying to hurt, almost literally adding insult to injury.