Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–November 16, 2016
Throughout the campaign, Donald Trump maintained that he wasn’t going to touch Social Security or Medicare. Now that he’s president-elect and has done absolutely nothing to prepare for that eventuality, he—or his transition team—is apparently latching onto whatever is already out there. Thanks to the sharp eye of Huffington Post’s Jonathon Cohn, we know Trump’s evolution. He’s now embracing privatizing Medicare. Oh, and decimating Medicaid.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has championed these ideas for years. Trump has not. In fact, in a 2015 interview his campaign website highlighted, he vowed that “I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” But the health care agenda on Trump’s transition website, which went live Thursday, vows to “modernize Medicare” and allow more “flexibility” for Medicaid.
In Washington, those are euphemisms for precisely the kind of Medicare and Medicaid plans Ryan has long envisioned. And while it’s never clear what Trump really thinks or how he’ll act, it sure looks like both he and congressional Republicans are out to undo Lyndon Johnson’s health care legacy, not just Barack Obama’s. […]
It’s difficult to be precise about the real-world effects, because the Republican plans for replacing existing government insurance programs remain so undefined. Ryan’s “A Better Way” proposal is a broad, 37-page outline without dollar figures, and Senate Republican leaders have never produced an actual Obamacare “replacement” plan.
However, Ryan has consistently been very clear and detailed on a couple of things: Medicare privatization—turning it into a voucher program, and turning Medicaid into a block-grant where states get to choose what to do with a chunk of money that will, over time, diminish. And it sure looks like Trump has decided to embrace that. Which is kind of crazy, because Trump above all else wants to be popular. This isn’t going to be popular.
Therein lies Democrats’ first real opportunity to fight and win. Even Trump recognizes that ending Medicare is a dumb idea. Here’s the chance to splinter the Republicans and jam the wedge that already exists between the two in even deeper. Democrats can mobilize their constituents—the white working class folks who rely on Medicare!—and work with advocacy groups to pressure Trump to fight Ryan, and likely win.