Trump builds a wall from the wrong side

Something Rich Lowry wrote in his new Politico piece strikes me as incredibly salient,

The supposed affinity between Trump and the Freedom Caucus is one of the great ideological misunderstandings of our time. Just because Trump and the conservative caucus are both “anti-establishment” doesn’t mean they have anything else in common. Trump is more naturally an ally of the moderate Tuesday Group, except with a flame-throwing Twitter feed.

Trump is, at heart, a Rockefeller Republican. His obvious disinterest in social issues (clearly gay marriage is here to stay), his love of big infrastructure spending, and most notably his many previous statements of supporting universal healthcare coverage– ranging from explicit support of a Canadian style single payer system in 1999 to this year’s promise that everyone would be covered– show that given the choice of drowning government in a bath tub or letting it swim laps in an infinity pool, he’s a Rockefeller Man, through and through.

Of course more fiscally conservative Republicans have never really been fans of this approach. There’s a great story about the time newly elected Governor Rockefeller was excitedly explaining to his esteemed predecessor (and two time GOP presidential nominee) Tom Dewey his vast plans to improve New York’s infrastructure. Dewey told him, “Nelson, I like you but I don’t think I can afford you”.

Of course, Rocky didn’t let the haters get him down (and New York State is better for it) and got things done because he was smart enough to hire lieutenants who shared his goals. Trump, it is clear, is not that smart. His own OMB director Mick Mulvaney poured cold bath water on the idea of providing universal coverage,

White House Budget Director Mick said Sunday there is only one way to have universal healthcare in the country.
“The only way to get truly universal care is to throw people in jail if they don’t have it,” he said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “And we are not going to do that.”

Leaving aside that Mulvaney neglected to mention there’s actually another way to provide universal healthcare (hint, it starts with M and ends with care), the most pathetic thing about that statement is people in jail are the only Americans who actually have a constitutional right to healthcare. Courts have ruled that denying medical treatment to inmates is a violation of the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment (If liberals were smart, they’d make a list of things prisoners are guaranteed by right and demand that non-criminal Americans be guaranteed the same).
Edit: [Ok guys, this will get you started, “The Amendment also imposes duties on these officials, who must provide humane conditions of confinement; prison officials must ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, and must take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates…”].

My late father once worked as a prison doctor and he thought it was crazy that people had to commit crimes to be given medical attention (the EMTALA law guarantees emergency aid but if the ER doc finds a chronic condition or even cancer and you’re uninsured, your only affordable treatment plan starts with handcuffs). My dad suspected some of his patients broke the law for that sole reason. A few seconds of googling came up with five examples of “criminals” who did just that.

But I digress, Trump’s HHS secretary Tom Price is also no fan of universal coverage. He told Senator Bernie Sanders at his confirmation hearing that the goal should be “access to care”. Sanders noted that he himself had access to buying a $10 million house but the problem was he couldn’t afford it. That is the very core of the dispute. You either believe that every American should have healthcare available to them regardless of their income and criminal record, or you do not. If you think the former than you line up with the moderate Tuesday Group Republicans (and, of course, the Democrats). If you think the latter, well, then let me be the first to point this out to you: You are a monster.

As one might expect (or not expect, for the sociopaths among you), Winston Churchill made the case for universal healthcare more vividly than anyone else in the English speaking world.

Disease must be attacked, whether it occurs in the poorest or the richest man or woman simply on the ground that it is the enemy; and it must be attacked just in the same way as the fire brigade will give its full assistance to the humblest cottage as readily as to the most important mansion…

Disease must be attacked simply on the ground that it is the enemy. If Trump believes that, and I sincerely think he does, than he himself made the one of the great ideological misunderstandings of our time. It is deeper than Trump thinking he could pass a bill by appeasing the Tea Party– excuse me we’re to now call them the Freedom Caucus– it’s that he compounded his error by hiring Freedom Caucusians like Mulvaney and Price for his cabinet.

Josh Barro made the point that by Trump letting the congressional Republicans take the leading oar on his agenda, he made himself their hostage. If the hapless Paul Ryan can’t line up a majority of the House on a healthcare bill that tosses the poor and sick off the sled because of absurd, even harsher conditions demanded by Freedom Caucus, then nothing can get passed without getting Democratic votes. Alas, that rabbit hole goes down pretty deep; good luck getting the House Republicans lining up the votes to pass a debt ceiling hike or anything else the Freedom Caucus doesn’t want.

The flip side of this is because Trump’s ragetweets have pissed off every Democrat from Key West to Anchorage, getting Democrats in House to help Trump pass bills is going to be a lot more costly (both financially and ideologically) than if Trump had started his presidency on friendlier terms. The new DNC chair Tom Perez said the other day that Democrats WOULD help Trump on healthcare… if he’d agree to a public option bill. Naturally, Paul Ryan (who is, as you’ll recall, some of the worst humanity has to offer) is not a fan of this idea at all but he may have run out of runway on this issue. So that’s the direction this is headed, if Trump wants to get anything passed the House and Senate (which has a narrower and more moderate GOP majority), he’s going to give Democrats concessions that the Freedom Caucusians are really, really not going to like. Next time, I’ll suggest what they ask for to maximize their distress.

Update: Good Lord, it never stops. As I was writing this, President Trump issued a Fatwa against the Freedom Caucus.


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