About a year ago, with a Republican health care push in full force, Donald Trump sat down with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who reminded the president that his health care plan would punish “counties that voted for you” more than areas that didn’t.
“Oh, I know,” Trump replied. “I know.”
Several months later, as the GOP’s tax breaks took shape, the White House was again confronted with evidence that its proposal left behind many of the working-class voters who rallied behind Trump’s candidacy a year earlier.
And now that the president’s trade agenda is coming into focus, and retaliatory tariffs from China are taking shape, we’re learning quite a bit about which Americans are poised to feel the brunt of the changes. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, highlighting data from the Brookings Institution, explained this morning that areas that backed Trump are likely to suffer more than areas that voted for Hillary Clinton.
“This is a much more industrial story, and potentially much more consequential,” Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings, told me, adding that while blue territory such as Washington state and California is implicated, China’s latest tariffs mean “red counties and the manufacturing heartland are hit hard.”
This is consistent with a separate report from the Post’s Philip Bump, who noted that the latest proposed tariffs from China are “likely to affect places whose residents voted for Trump more significantly than voters in other areas.”
All of this comes on the heels of the president’s budget plan, unveiled in February, which Congress largely ignored, but which nevertheless showed the White House proposing drastic changes that would’ve hurt Trump’s own supporters if implemented.
Maybe Trump and his team believe these voters won’t know about the effects of the White House’s agenda. Alternatively, the president may expect his supporters to learn the truth but not care. He is, after all, the Republican who once boasted, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s like, incredible.”
Whatever the rationale, Trump has to hope the blind loyalty continues, because the alternative is a group of supporters who may wonder why their purported champion keeps ignoring their interests.