Friday, August 7, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He promised to give Americans health care protections they've had for ten years.

Today, Trump announced that he would be issuing executive orders "requiring health insurance companies to cover all preexisting conditions for all companies." He then said that this was something that had "never been done before."

Of course, as Americans who actually pay for health insurance know, it has been done before—in a law that Trump has spent his entire term trying to overturn.

The Affordable Care Act—better known by the nickname given to it by Republicans, Obamacare—was passed more than 10 years ago. One of the most significant provisions in the law barred insurance companies from declining coverage or charging more because of pre-existing conditions. This made private health insurance affordable for tens of millions of Americans.

Trump, who failed to repeal the ACA even with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, has resorted to attacking it in the courts. His administration's official policy, which they are suing to try to enforce, is that the act must be repealed immediately, in its entirety. 

As is often the case, it's not clear whether Trump knows that Americans already have already had this protection for ten years, and is simply ignoring the truth, or if he genuinely believes this would be a new thing. Trump has had private "concierge" health care his entire life, and is easily confused on the subject of the health insurance he's never needed to buy. 

It's also not clear what, if any, legal authority Trump has to accomplish this by executive order. Presidents can only issue executive orders to accomplish things they're already authorized by laws to do—something Trump used to understand.

Why should I care about this?

  • It's wrong to take credit for things you haven't done, and that someone else already did.
  • Promising voters what they want works better if they don't already have it, and if you're not working hard to take it away from them.