But no publication has had a more mutually beneficial relationship with our new president than Breitbart. Trump’s campaign brought the site’s brand of reactionary populism into the mainstream — and its former mastermind into the West Wing. By the time the ballots were cast, no other news outlet had grown its audience more over the 2016 cycle.
And Breitbart, of course, supplied Trump with a megaphone, a strategist, and relentlessly positive coverage — even when the mogul’s campaign manager low-key battered one of the site’s reporters.
So, Breitbart’s latest headline on the Trump-Ryan health-care plan is probably causing some consternation at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about Breitbart’s headline is its accuracy. Trumpcare is a much less generous program than Obamacare — and its cuts will be felt, disproportionately, by the people who wanted Trump to Make America Great Again. Among the reasons why this is the case:
(1) The bill raises the cap on how much more insurers can charge old people than young people for the same coverage.
(2) Unlike Obamacare, the size of the bill’s subsidies don’t adjust to the cost of health insurance in a given market — everyone in the same age group gets the same subsidy, no matter where they live. But health insurance costs a lot more in rural areas than it does in urban ones, where there’s the more competition between insurers.
Thus, Paul Ryan’s plan actually works out pretty well for the young, urban elites who voted for Clinton — but it just hammers the older, rural, working-class voters who backed Trump.
As the New York Times Nate Cohn writes:
Over all, voters who would be eligible for a tax credit that would be at least $1,000 smaller than the subsidy they’re eligible for under Obamacare supported Mr. Trump over Hillary Clinton by a seven-point margin. The voters hit the hardest — eligible for at least $5,000 less in tax credits under the Republican plan — supported Mr. Trump by a margin of 59 percent to 36 percent.
It’s one thing for the (“failing”) New York Times to state this plain fact. It’s quite another for one of the (Trump-era) conservative movement’s most trusted news sources to say the same. For most on the right, the chief complaint with Ryan’s bill is that it’s too generous. Instead of the “market-based” solution conservatives were promised, this bill is “Obamacare Lite.”
And there’s a whiff of this in Breitbart’s piece, which refers to Ryan’s bill as “Obamacare 2.0.” But the outlet’s analysis recognizes that virtually no one wants to live in Rand Paul’s anarcho-capitalist wonderland — they want better, more affordable health care, like the Republican Party has been promising them, over and over, for eight years. Per Breitbart:
Part of what killed Hillary Clinton’s campaign was voters getting their massive Obamacare premium increases in the mail in October. Republicans seem eager to inflict that kind of fatal damage on themselves. The explosive reaction to Obamacare launched the Tea Party in 2010 and swept Republicans into Congress during the mid-term elections of 2014. The Left is furious and energetic under Trump. The 2018 midterm elections are right around the corner … The white, working class gave Trump a chance in 2016. They could easily begin voting Democratic again or drop out of the political process altogether after a healthcare betrayal.
The truth is, there’s no Republican alternative to Obamacare that wouldn’t betray a large swath of Trump’s base. You can’t make the ACA work better for older, working-class people when your party’s first priority in reforming the law is to eliminate the part that transfers billions of dollars from millionaires to older, working-class people.
Breitbart’s piece seems to intuit this, even if it never mentions the tax issue (and concentrates its populist fury on the prospect that the law might keep some “illegals” from dying preventable deaths).
The article’s final recommendation is not for Trump to pursue a different health-care law, but rather to concentrate on passing “pro-American immigration reform,” so as to “end the era of cheap labor, low wages, mass immigration, hollowed-out communities, family disintegration, drug addiction, and suicide.”
Breitbart is probably wrong to suggest that building a border wall will end the “era” of “low wages” and “suicide.” But, at least it knows that repealing Obamacare won’t end that era, either.
And now, so do a good number of the president’s most avid supporters.