My next newspaper column:
Surely no one believes the thirteen white male Republican senators who scrabbled together their version of Trumpcare, in secret, thought even for a moment about doing the most good for the most Americans. Could anyone who sees the result think they discussed its impact on the people who’ve benefitted most from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? On older Americans whose premiums will skyrocket? The chronically ill, the working poor. If it was considered, it must have been only to dismiss it. Such callousness can’t be unintentional.
Trump promised lower premiums, lower deductibles, better coverage. Not in the bill, of course, because without “Medicare for All” it’s impossible. (If he didn’t know that, why not? If voters believed him, why?) He promised he’d raise taxes on people like himself and lower them on everyone else. He won’t. In fact, whereas the worst effects on average citizens in the Senate wealthcare bill don’t kick in till after the next election, its tax giveaways to their paymasters are retroactive. If it fails, McConnell warns his party, we’d have to work with Democrats. That says it all.
Whether or not it passes, this version of Trumpcare underscores today’s Republican party values: in every way, on every day, transferring wealth and services from the poor and middle classes to the wealthy, while blaming the former for any misfortunes they’ve suffered or will in the future. Why do they do those things, so brazenly, confident they can get away with it?One answer is found in Trump’s latest “festoon me with your love as I speak of my wonderfulness” rally: because they can.
“I have to be a little careful,” he told the enraptured Iowans, “Because they’ll say, “He lied.”” Cheers for the man and jeers for the media which followed were rewarded with lie upon Trumpic lie. Like his oldie-but-goodie claim about American tax rates, debunked with facts so obvious you’d think by now they’d have plowed through the cornfields and into the Fox-encrusted cranii of his listeners. You’d be wrong.
Capping it off to pandemonious cheers, he said it was high time for a law preventing immigrants from receiving government benefits for five years after arrival. We can be sure the audience had no idea such a law has been on the books since the Clinton presidency, but what of Trump? Is he that ill-informed? He’s president, after all; by law if not by majority acclamation. Or is he that cynical? Are his lies and apparent ignorance uncontrollable or deliberate? Either way, his supporters don’t care, so what does it matter?
This -- beside the obvious need to trust a president on dealings with enemies and friends alike -- is how it matters: because those thirteen Republican senators know the president is an unrepentant liar who nevertheless retains support among the vast majority of their party, they feel empowered to lie with impunity. So far, there’s no evidence of blowback. And because of brilliant propagandizing and rock-solid gerrymandering, they know their seats at the table are almost perfectly safe. They’re free to carry out the wishes of their wealthy benefactors, knowing they’ll not be called on it.
Those wishes are simple and few: more money in the form of tax breaks, more money for their businesses, and less for anyone not in their brackets: tax, social, or otherwise. Trumpcare delivers. (The Koch brothers and some of their paid-for congressfolk think it’s not brutal enough; but, hey, it’s a start. What it fails to deliver now will be more than covered in their as-yet unrevealed tax “reform.” Count on it.)
Presidential lies and legislative gifts to wealthy donors at the expense of regular citizens won’t stop unless their voters demand it; but evidence suggests those people prefer being lied to. Since his electoral college victory, Trump has done so, on average, more than twice a day. Challenged to prove it by his faithful, I’ve directed them to sources where hundreds are catalogued. Without reading it, they reject the documentation, solidifying their commitment to remaining uninformed.
Evidently the pleasure of jeering reporters and denigrating people unlike themselves makes up for what’s being taken away from them. Their leaders know this and appear quite happy to oblige.[Image source]