Donald Trump’s latest flip-flops on healthcare and the Mexican border continue a pattern of promises, and reversals, that gets far too little attention. His flip-flops show that Trump ignores the interests of the party he latched onto in favor of whatever crazy idea pops into his head.
Although at his rallies Trump delights his uninformed supporters with claims that he’s followed through on his campaign promises—The Wall—he is actually delivering very little.
- Candidate Trump promised a $1 trillion program to repair and improve America’s infrastructure but has done nothing. Had he pushed an infrastructure bill, the Democrats would have had to go along or risk the wrath of the working class. But instead, they can run on Republicans failure to fulfill the promise of jobs and smoother roads.
- He promised a huge tax cut for most Americans—$50,000 of tax-free income for married couples ($25,000 for singles)—and no taxes for 75 million Americans. The tax law he signed in December 2017 showered almost all its benefits on big multinational corporations like Apple and the best-off Americans while raising total taxes on millions of people. And don’t forget that Trump got Congress to raise the threshold for paying income taxes from almost $23,000 for a family of four to just $24,000—not much, not much at all.
- He pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, which continues providing gynecological care to millions of mostly poor women. As with his wall, Trump is trying here, but not delivering.
- He promised to bring back waterboarding and other torture, but as commander-in-chief, Trump failed to persuade America’s military leadership to resume this criminal activity, for which our country executed senior Japanese officers after World War II.
- And he promised to staff his administration with “the best people,” instead of giving us not just know-nothings like Betsy DeVos and Wilbur Ross, but a squad of cheaters and Treasury looters like the departed EPA chief Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Trump’s latest loser? Self-proclaimed tax expert Stephen Moore, widely derided as a hack who knows little of economics and who turned out to be a tax cheat—and a clumsy one at that.
In all of these Trump has demonstrated that he knows nothing of policy or partisan agendas, only what serves himself. He does not know the pulse of America, only of the true believers of his cult of personality.
For Republican officeholders, down Trump’s path lies political death. We saw a sign of coming disaster for the GOP last fall when Democrat running for the House garnered 4.3 million more votes than Republicans—a greater popular vote margin than Hillary Clinton’s over Trump in 2016, though he won the Electoral College.
Trump inflicted heavy damage last week on Republican politicians when the Justice Department stopped defending the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Now Justice seeks to kill Obamacare in the courts.
Only an idiot, or a narcissist, would fail to realize the widespread fear of losing health insurance and related fear of being uninsurable because of a pre-existing condition, something virtually universal among those from middle age to 65, when Medicare kicks in. Pregnancy, by the way, is a pre-existing condition.
A conspiratorial cynic might think that the Democrats secretly planted the idea in Trump’s jumbled mine that repealing Obamacare is the path to a second term.
The other thoughtless flip-flop came when Trump declared he may shut down the Mexican border not just to asylum seekers, but to all commerce. If that happens, say adios to many fruits in winter, not to mention many of the 1.2 million American jobs that depend on trade with Mexico and, in turn, many jobs that depend on the incomes of those million-plus workers.
In 2020, every House Republican is up for election. So are 22 of 53 Republican senators. In addition, nine Republican governors face voters in 2019 or 2020, seven of them vulnerable to losing.
If Trump continues flailing about, in November 2020 we’ll find out just how big of a mistake Republican politicians made by not standing up to him.