Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He campaigned on a secret health care plan you're not allowed to know about.

Trump surprised many people—and horrified Congressional Republicans—when his first reaction to being "exonerated" by the Barr memo was to dive back into the health care debate. Last Tuesday, Trump ordered the Justice Department to stop defending any part of the Affordable Care Act in court. 

There are other parties defending the law, and challenges to its overall constitutionality are not widely expected to succeed. But in essence, Trump has now officially endorsed the immediate "repeal" of all of the law sometimes known as "Obamacare." This includes overwhelmingly popular provisions, like rules that prevent health insurance companies for dropping people with pre-existing conditions, or that allow adult children to stay on their parents' plans until age 26. 

After a week of none-too-gentle lobbying from his own party, Trump seems to have realized his political miscalculation. Today, he tried a new tactic: arguing that once the ACA is defeated in the courts, he will unveil his plan for a replacement—but only after the 2020 election. He told reporters today:

I want to put it after the election, because we don't have the House. So, even though the health care is good, really good, it's much better than -- when the plan comes out, which will be showing you at the appropriate time, it's much better than Obamacare. So, when the plan comes out, you will see it.

That statement followed a series of tweets last night in which Trump confirmed that he did, indeed, mean that the plan would only be revealed "right after the Election"—and only if he were re-elected along with a Republican majority in both houses.

Neither his tweets nor his comments today explained what was supposed to happen in the period between any potential judicial repeal of the ACA and the passage of his secret plan.

Why should I care about this?

  • Presidents have a Constitutional obligation to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" whether or not it's good for them politically.
  • Even if Trump really does have a plan now, his own track record suggests that he'll forget what it is before too long.