For the first time in history, the percentage of Americans lacking health insurance dropped below 9% thanks to Obamacare. Twenty million more people have insurance than did before the Affordable Care Act. The program is more popular than ever and far more popular than Donald Trump.
So what’s Trump do? He cuts $90 million from the budget used to promote the program to increase the number of people using it. Democrats call it sabotage. I call it cutting health care by $90 million at a time when it’s among the top concerns of most voters.
Trump and a number of Republicans are still plugging their story that the Affordable Care Act is collapsing. It’s not true. Every county in the nation will have at least one Obamacare insurer next year.
While there are still problems, leaders of both parties are looking for ways to fix them and stabilize the system, not scrap it or sabotage it. In the Senate, Lamar Alexander, Republican Chair of the Senate Health Committee, has been holding hearings on ways to stabilize the independent insurance market. A bipartisan group in the House that calls itself the Problem Solvers Caucus is also working on fixes. And last week, Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich and Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper laid out a plan to fix Obamacare.
Similarly, Trump is about to end Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, putting kids at risk who have grown up here and who consider themselves more Americans than immigrants. The public broadly supports letting people brought to this country as children stay. That support is not lost on Republicans. After repeatedly sinking similar legislation called the DREAM Act, Republicans in Congress are quickly moving to pass a “conservative Dream Act” that would offset any actions taken by the president.
Elected officials in both parties seem to have realized that the public is fed up with the hyper-partisanship that’s driven our politics. But while they’re starting to look for joint solutions, Donald Trump is doubling down the rhetoric that animates his base. He’s trying to shore up support among the 40% of Americans who still support him while ignoring the 60% or so who don’t.
Trump, who has never been wildly popular outside of his base, has seen his popularity plummet as much for his demeanor as his policies. Now, he’s trying to gut programs that have relatively broad support with middle America. He is essentially driving a wedge between his base and the people who determine elections. For Republicans heading into a midterm, that’s a scary strategy coming from the leader of their party.