Every time President Trump appears intent on self-destruction, he scores a political win that reminds us that his election in 2016 was no accident.
With the impeachment inferno consuming all political discourse and scorching those closest to the flames, Trump traveled to Florida recently to warn seniors that “Medicare for All” would destroy Medicare as we know it.
At that moment, Trump brought home how the Socialist policies of the progressive Left – the group now calling the shots for the Democratic Party – could forever change the way Americans live. He snatched the socialism debate from the confines of faculty lounges and New York Times editorials and spilled it onto kitchen tables, revealing to voters the stark consequences of electing candidates like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), both of whom have endorsed a single-payer health care system.
Trump promised to defend Medicare against Medicare for All and issued an executive order detailing numerous changes aimed at strengthening the program, increasing choice and combatting fraud.
Sheer political genius.
First, the optics are excellent. Trump is out talking to Americans about real problems while Speaker Nancy Pelosi is busily orchestrating the six House committees beavering away at impeaching the president. She refuses to sanctify this latest attack on the president by taking a floor vote on the measure, but vouches for its importance, all the while fending off critics who say Congress is not producing for the American people. Do-Nothing Congress has been a favorite refrain of the president lately, and the hashtag has trended on Twitter.
Democrats may be whooped up about impeaching the president. But most of the country still sees this endeavor as politically motivated and, therefore, a waste of Congress’ energies. There really are important issues stuck in the House — issues that could be resolved without much difficulty and that would improve the state of the nation, like passing the rebooted NAFTA trade agreement known as the USMCA.
Never fear, Pelosi has responded. She claims that Democrats in the House are capable of spending hundreds of hours chasing down Ukrainian rabbit holes while still moving the USMCA and other beneficial projects, like infrastructure spending, ahead. She hasn’t explained why that hasn’t actually happened, but she doesn’t need to.
We all know that Democrats are loathe to give Trump any kind of win this close to the 2020 election, and most especially one that might boost the economy. For months Democrats have hoped a recession would come along to undermine the president’s boasts about the strong jobs market and rising wages. Some slowing in the manufacturing sector today and fall-out from the trade battle with China has brought that prospect agonizingly close; they surely do not want to inject any accelerants into the system just now.
Passing the updated and constructive trade treaty that covers the $1.2 trillion annual exchange of goods between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. would be just that sort of accelerant. In particular, it would be good for U.S. farmers, a group that supported Trump in 2016 but who have beaten up by the trade skirmish with Beijing. Democrats would hate to see disgruntled dairy farmers in Wisconsin, a key swing state, cheered up by gaining greater access to Canada’s market, as the USMCA would allow.
Infrastructure spending would also boost growth, and the morale of the nation. Americans despair that while our rivals can turn out high-speed trains as seamlessly as toaster ovens, we fret and agonize and set up innumerable roadblocks that ultimately result in gridlock.
The contrast is stark. Congress is more than ever paralyzed and dysfunctional. But Trump is busy protecting our seniors from losing their Medicare, addressing an important voter block. Retirees are reliable voters who tend to be more conservative than younger cohorts. Convince them that their popular health care program is under attack, and they will stream to the polls. That will help Trump, especially in swing-state Florida, where a large influx of uprooted Puerto Ricans threatens to turn the state blue.
Also, Trump encourages skepticism of Medicare for All (and of Democrats) by reminding voters of the lies the Obama administration told about the Affordable Care Act. We all remember the promise that we would be able to keep our existing health care plans and doctors under Obamacare. That didn’t happen. Also, Obama promised, “We’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year….by the end of my first term as president.” The truth was that premiums soared.
Why should voters believe Democrats now? Common sense suggests that if everyone is rolled into a single-payer system, our federal budget will be busted, and everyone’s health services will suffer. Bernie Sanders has admitted that middle-class taxes will go up to fund Medicare for All, which a study by the Mercatus Center estimates would cost up to $32 trillion over the first ten years. As the author of that study notes: “Even doubling all federal individual and corporate income tax collections would fall short of fully funding the plan.”
Trump cautions that a government takeover of health insurance would eliminate private employer-sponsored plans enjoyed by some 180 million Americans. That includes many union workers who have sacrificed cash wage gains in the past in lieu of better benefits.
Also, under Medicare for All, the 24 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage would lose that access to private supplemental coverage. As in other countries with government-provided health care, like Canada and England, wait times for procedures considered routine in the U.S. will lengthen. Ultimately, some treatments will be rationed; in the United Kingdom not long ago, some 50,000 procedures were cancelled when the government administrators deemed them “non-urgent.” That’s what seniors here have to look forward to.
President Trump vowed during the last State of the Union address that the United States would never be a Socialist nation, earning him a standing ovation from the Republican side of the aisle. My guess: In 2020, voters across the country will join the applause.
Published on The Hill