Muftic: America first, Americans last (column)
March 21, 2017
President Donald Trump puts America First and many Americans last with his two largest initiatives, replacing Obamacare and his budget proposal, Trump is indeed making good on his promise to put America first as he defines those words in solely defense-spending terms, but he does it by putting older, sicker, poorer, and the young, and blue-collar, lower-income workers last while reducing taxes on the very rich.
Trump's definition of making America great again as expressed in his proposed budget and embrace of the GOP health care plan is more military might and cutting more than $600 billion from taxes on the already wealthy and businesses that pay for Obamacare. It is a shift based on the ideology of the good of smaller government, isolationism and lowering the tax burden on the rich and corporations and reducing the federal deficit. But Trump ignores the impact on humans, especially the lower middle class working poor and older Americans, groups that voted for him in 2016.
By election time in November 2018, some of the ideological rubber and Trump campaign promises will have hit the real world road of human suffering and political backlash as Medicaid expansion is cut so that 14 million lose their insurance. Soon after 2018 elections the 50-65 year old will be hit with a 20 to 25 percent increase in health insurance premiums.
The purely ideologically motivated claim that what people really want is choice and competition and less debt burden on their grandchildren. They fume that 3 percent of the American population do not have the choice of benefits or multiple plans since they only have access to one insurance company and they take that as proof Obamacare is failing. That is not what most consumers primarily care about. Polls and media interviews of Trump supporters have been very clear. They want lower-cost insurance premiums and less out-of-pocket expenses. After all, candidate Trump had promised them better access to better health insurance. The most damning disconnect with consumers about the Trump administration making the gift of choice the shiny object they want to provide, is that 14 million will have no choice of even one plan, since they will have no way to afford premiums with the cuts to Medicaid and premium subsidies. These disconnects are like a consumer asking for the chocolate they were promised, but giving them a licorice stick or an empty candy wrapper instead.
Eventually, per the Congressional Budget Office, (CBO) 24 million currently insured will be uninsured in ten years, taking the US back to where the number of uninsured was the same as was before Obamacare. Remember those days? Health care bills were the number one cause of bankruptcy. The emergency room became the primary care doctors and hospital's expensive charity care costs were shifted to higher premiums for everyone else to pay.
The Trump budget proposal shows how little it cares about the human factor in many ways, claiming they see no benefit in certain programs so they are cutting federal subsidies to latch key kids of after school programs including feeding thm, Meals on Wheels (35% of funding is coming from the feds now) that keeps grandma at home instead of in a nursing home, reducing Medicaid that pays for seven million grandmas to stay in nursing homes.
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