Thursday, September 24, 2020

Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to bribe senior citizens with $200 he doesn't have.

Trump traveled to North Carolina—a swing state he desperately needs to have any hope of winning the election—for an "official" announcement about health care policy. (When presidents travel for government business, even during campaign season, the taxpayers pay for it, which is a break for Trump's cash-poor campaign.)

After almost four years of doing nothing on health care except for trying and failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), what Trump announced today as his "plan" was almost completely devoid of substance. Actual legislation would take months to pass, and would require cooperation from Congress—something Trump couldn't get even when his own party controlled both houses.  

One order signed today declared that requiring health insurance companies to cover patients with pre-existing conditions was "policy." But the president can't simply order private companies to do this without a law, and Trump is actively trying to have the ACA overturned in the courts.

To be clear: Trump's executive order will have no legal authority if Trump's lawsuit to overturn the ACA succeeds.

Trump also claimed that Medicare patients would receive $200 vouchers for prescription medicines. He wouldn't say what legal authority he has to do this, and legal experts aren't sure any exists. (Congress, not presidents, decides what taxpayer money is spent on.)

Last month, drug companies rejected Trump's demand that they pay for these vouchers—which Trump wanted to brand as "Trump Cards." Promising that taxpayers will pay for their own pre-election vouchers seems to be what is left of that plan.

Trump didn't try to hide the fact that the $7 billion voucher scheme (if it happens) was a late attempt to buy votes from seniors. "Joe Biden won't be doing this," he told the audience.

Why should I care about this?

  • Voters might not like the idea that they can be bought with a last-minute bribe.
  • It's bad if the president doesn't know or care what the limits of his authority are.
  • It's wrong to take credit for things you are actively working against.