Trump Says He May Freeze Subsidies to the Poor Until Democrats Repeal Obamacare

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The best deals. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Wednesday, President Trump announced that he plans to use the powers of his office to jeopardize health-care access for millions of low-income people, while destabilizing America’s insurance markets — because he believes that voters will blame the ensuing chaos on the Democratic Party, leaving Chuck Schumer desperate to negotiate with the White House over Obamacare repeal.

Ever since his plan to finance a tax cut for the rich by throwing millions off Medicaid died without a vote, Trump has repeatedly assured the American people that their health-care system will collapse under his watch. It hasn’t always been clear whether this sentiment was intended as a prediction of an event Trump (wrongly) believed to be inevitable — or as a promise to bring Obamacare down by any means necessary.

But in a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, the president essentially confesses to the latter intention — and he has already settled on a means of sabotage.

Back in 2014, the House GOP sued the Obama White House over payments that the federal government was making to insurers, in order to compensate them for the cost of providing discounted deductibles to low-income Obamacare enrollees. Without these “cost-sharing reductions,” fewer insurers would participate in the Affordable Care Act and its markets would likely collapse.

House Republicans argued that the payments were being made unconstitutionally, without a congressional appropriation. Last May, a federal judge agreed — but she put her decision on hold while the Obama administration appealed. Now, all Trump has to do to trigger a health-care crisis is withdraw that appeal. And he says he’s on the cusp of doing just that, as the Journal reports:

In an interview in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump said the White House may lack authority to make the payments established under his predecessor to reduce copayments and deductibles for some of the poorest customers who buy insurance under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Cutting off the payments could trigger turmoil in insurance markets.

“I don’t want people to get hurt,” Mr. Trump said. “What I think should happen—and will happen—is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.”

Shorter Trump: Nice affordable health care for the poor you got here, would be a real shame if something happened to it.

There are a couple obvious problems with this plan:

1) Trump’s hostage and his ransom are the same thing: He’s threatening to cut off health-insurance subsidies for poor people if Democrats don’t vote for his health-care plan, which significantly reduces health-insurance subsidies for poor people.

2) It will be hard to convince the public to blame Democrats for Obamacare’s destruction, after you publicly declared your intention to destroy Obamacare so that people would blame the Democrats for what you did.

Still, according to the Journal, Trump is seriously considering the idea:

When the Journal asked if he would agree even to release guidelines from which lawmakers could begin writing tax legislation, Mr. Trump said, simply, “No.” “I’m going to get health care done,” Mr. Trump said.

… Several times he steered the conversation back to the subsidies to health insurers, known as cost-sharing reductions, that help prop up the Obamacare.

…“Schumer should be calling me up and begging me to help him save Obamacare,” Mr. Trump said about Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a fellow New Yorker. “He should be calling me and begging me to help him save Obamacare, along with Nancy Pelosi, ” the top Democrat in the House.

Mr. Trump said Democrats should be motivated to find negotiate on health care because “they own Obamacare.”

The president doesn’t want to shoot this hostage, but Democrats should be calling him up and begging him not to shoot the hostage. They should be grateful for the chance to negotiate a deal in which he merely cuts off all the hostage’s fingers. After all, who is the public gonna blame for the hostage’s murder: the people who loved it, or the guy with the gun shouting all of this through a bullhorn?

Trump: I May Sabotage Obamacare Until Democrats Repeal It