Donald Trump has decided what he meant by mentioning he'd be open to "working with" Democrats on Obamacare earlier this month. What he meant was "working over" Dems, not to mention tens of millions of Americans by threatening to sabotage government payments to insurers unless Dems surrender totally.
President Trump suggested to the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that he would withhold from insurers Obamacare subsidy payments that are the target of a House GOP lawsuit in order to force Democrats into negotiations over repealing the Affordable Care Act, a move that could bring chaos to the individual health insurance market.
In the same interview Trump said he believed Democrats still “own” the Affordable Care Act, but acknowledged that the longer he was in office the more likely it was he would be blamed for problems with the law.
“That’s part of the reason that I may go the other way” on the insurance subsidies, Trump told the Journal. “The longer I’m behind this desk and you have Obamacare, the more I would own it.”
The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are under increasing pressure to continue the subsidies, known as cost sharing reduction payments, at least through 2018 as insurers prepare to submit their plans for next year. The Department of Health and Human Services, as well as GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, have signaled that the payments will continue through the next stage of the legal case, which has been delayed until May.
House Republicans in 2014 sued the Obama administration over the payments, claiming they were illegal because they were not explicitly appropriated by Congress, and won a favorable ruling from a federal judge last May who then halted her decision to allow the Justice Department to appeal it.
Trump’s threats to end the payments come as the Obamacare repeal effort in Congress has faltered. He also told the Wall Street Journal that he will not release the White House plan for tax reform—the next item on the GOP’s agenda and where congressional Republican leaders have shifted their attention—until an Obamacare repeal bill is passed.
Trump said he believed that withholding the payments for insurers would bring Democrats to the table on negotiations.
“I don’t want people to get hurt,” Mr. Trump said. “What I think should happen—and will happen—is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.”
Extortion, plain and simple. And Trump thinks that treating tens of millions of voters like poker chips that can be sacrificed will help him with his dismal approval ratings.
Sure, Donny. You go right on believing that.