We mentioned earlier today that President Trump‘s threat to try to use a legal maneuver to suddenly take health insurance away from millions of low- to middle-income Americans is probably not going to convince Democrats to cave to his demands on the border wall.
As a moral matter, Trump screwing over American consumers who did nothing wrong, in a fit of pique over congressional politics on an unrelated matter, is hard to defend. But it’s also worth keeping in mind the politics, which these numbers, via Vox, help illuminate:
The Washington Examiner dives in to just how bad Trump’s gambit would be for GOP lawmakers:
Congressional Republicans have little desire to prop up Obamacare. But these subsidies, or “Cost Sharing Reductions,” flow to perhaps hundreds of thousands of Americans who live in districts represented by Republicans considered soft targets for the Democrats in 2018.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., is a prime example. He’s defending a district that voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump by nearly 17 percentage points. He is sure to be a top Democratic target next year. More than 70,000 people who benefit from CSR subsidies live in Curbelo’s district. …
“Republicans wanting Obamacare to collapse might be a good talking point in 2017, but it will be disastrous at the ballot box for us in 2018,” a former House GOP aide said. Republicans interviewed for this story requested anonymity in order to speak candidly. …
House Republicans with Democratic targets on their back could come under servere political pressure in the midterm if the issue isn’t resolved.
They include Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, whose district voted for Clinton over Trump by 3.4 points and includes 21,000 people benefiting from CSR subsidies; and Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, whose district voted for Clinton by 10 points and includes 22,500 beneficiaries. The figures were compiled by Democratic committee staff in the House.
A GOP strategist who advises congressional Republicans warned that voters would give them some time to address the problem, “but not forever.” Indeed, the party could face an immediate test in Georgia and Montana, where it is defending vacant, conservative leaning House seats in competitive special elections.
In the suburban Atlanta 6th district, more than 25,000 people purchase health insurance subsidized by Cost Sharing Reductions under Obamacare. In Montana’s statewide, at-large district, 23,500 people depend on subsidized plans.
In short, Congressional Republicans do not want to create an awful catastrophe for which they will obviously be blamed. Trump isn’t just aiming to take health insurance for low- and middle-income Americans hostage in order to get his wall. He’s taking his own party hostage. He’s taking himself hostage. The strategy…doesn’t seem like it will work.
Greg Sargent at the Washington Post has more on this.
The whole thing is especially weird given that, after all, Mexico is going to pay for the wall.
It would have been an interesting twist in the campaign if Trump had been honest: “We’re going to build a wall and the American people are going to pay for it, or I’m going to take their health insurance away!”
UPDATE: Aaand…just like that, Trump is already backing off his bold claims about getting his border wall in the budget deal:
On funding the border wall, Trump said he could get it this week or the administration could come back to it in September.
— Trey Yingst (@TreyYingst) April 24, 2017