The AP headlined on March 9, “GOP health bill would cut CDC’s $1B disease fighting fund” and reported that this “pillar of funding for the nation’s lead public health agency,” which provides “public health programs designed to prevent illness and, therefore, reduce health care costs,” is targeted for “elimination,” by the Republican Paul Ryan-introduced healthcare bill—i.e., by the proposed legislation that President Donald Trump now says he is “proud to support.”
Trump had already said on March 7, “I am proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives.” That’s the Paul Ryan plan, the plan which Ryan says his staff have been working on for years. Trump never before had said that he approved of that. It’s the House Republican plan, in a House of Representatives controlled by Republicans—the representatives who elected Paul Ryan to be the speaker of the House, which is the federal post third in succession to the U.S. presidency, behind only Vice President Mike Pence (who is, of course, also a Republican).
This is the first time ever, that the healthcare plan, which candidate Trump had promised to Americans in only vague terms during his election campaign, actually has specifics, concrete details that really can be taken as representing Mr. Trump’s proposed plan to replace Obamacare.
This plan is, in its important features, the exact opposite of the following, from “Trump gets down to business on 60 Minutes: Scott Pelley interviews Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who lays out key policy details and reveals a major part of his tax proposal,” a segment which was telecast to the nation on 27 September 2016, and which therefore was an important part of the basis upon which Mr. Trump was elected to the U.S. Presidency:
“Donald Trump: By the way. Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, “No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private.” But—Scott Pelley: Universal health care? Donald Trump: I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now. Scott Pelley: The uninsured person is going to be taken care of how? Donald Trump: They’re going to be taken care of. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably—Scott Pelley: Make a deal? Who pays for it? Donald Trump:—The government’s gonna pay for it.”
There’s none of that in the reality. Everything that is “un-Republican” is actually absent from the reality of what Trump is actually pushing (and that his party has long been pushing) upon the American people.
However, the controlling stockholders and executives of America’s biggest corporations would benefit greatly from the real Trump plan (the one finally released in detail by Ryan, and, now, endorsed by Trump—not the one that candidate Trump was promising); and here is how it would benefit them (so that, finally, a reader can truthfully understand who the people are that Mr. Trump actually represents—not just who the people are who voted for him, which the media have focused so heavily upon):
This page shows that the healthcare sector in the U.S. is vastly more profitable than in other countries—it shows that the only industrialized nation which remains a holdout against socializing the healthcare function is also the best place in which to invest in healthcare. Those excess profits come at the public’s expense. (This is true also in the field of education: the more unregulated it is, the more inefficient it is.)
(Incidentally, Obamacare didn’t affect that profitability overall. Enrollment in Obamacare started being counted in 2014, and it barely affected healthcare stocks. The MSCI USA Health Care index continued, as before, to be much higher than the MSCI Europe Health Care index. Furthermore, the U.S. federal government reports that as of March 2016, the percentage of Americans who are enrolled in Obamacare was leveling off at around 4%: “4.0% (10.8 million) covered by private plans obtained through the Health Insurance Marketplace or state-based exchanges. The increase . . . from 3.6% . . . was not significant (Figure 8).” So, the negligible impact that Obamacare has had on healthcare profits would likely have continued to be negligible even if Hillary had won.)
There is overwhelming evidence, worldwide, that as regards healthcare systems, socialized health care is vastly more efficient than is free-market (or non-regulated) health care. Trump’s plan would move America’s healthcare system, which already is the most free-market one among all industrialized countries, even farther in the free-market direction. This would boost healthcare companies’ profits but depress the overall economy (because of the harm to non-healthcare companies and lowered worker productivity, etc.).
In addition to the targeted enormous benefits to the stockholders and top executives of healthcare companies, Trumpcare would, if passed into law, bring massive taxcuts to the super-rich, but only increased costs and sickness to the general public; so, Trump’s plan is a typical trickle-down boondoggle, of socialism-for-the-rich, even while it’s an increasingly extremist free-market for everybody else.
Trump is lower-rated by Americans than any prior U.S. president in recorded history was at a similarly early time in their respective presidencies, and he has by far the lowest job-approval-rating of any of them. The reason for this is that increasing percentages of Americans who had voted for him are finding that (as here, with healthcare) he had defrauded them. This doesn’t mean that they necessarily think that Hillary Clinton wasn’t as atrocious as they had thought she was; it instead means that they feel trapped by their nation’s current political system, into choosing only between toxic candidates—maybe like the U.S-and-allied press says that things are in Iran. This result (a trapped American public) adds confirmation to the sole scientific study that has been done concerning whether the United States in recent times (it studied the years 1981–2002) is at all a democracy—that lone study of the subject found that the U.S. definitely is not, but that it instead is controlled by an aristocracy, the wealthiest Americans, whom some call “oligarchs.” So, Americans in 2016 were given a choice between two cups of poison, and chose one, and this is American ‘democracy’ in our time (regardless of whether America ever had been a democracy, but that’s a different question).
Just as with Trump’s plan to boost spending 9% on the federal government’s most corrupt and wasteful cabinet department, and to slash spending on all other cabinet departments, megacorporations are likely to benefit (at least short-term), but certainly the nation will suffer to the extent that Trump’s (and the other Republicans’) plans become laws and federal policies, instead of pure gridlock and nothing done. A gridlocked Washington, DC, now would be the best thing for the country, even though the public probably doesn’t recognize that fact and instead believes the contrary. (Trump is an even less-popular President than Obama was; so, this belief by voters would be less strong now than it was then, but it still would probably be strong, out of a knee-jerk belief that Congress is paid to change things instead of to do nothing and simply extend the existing legislative status quo.) (And, regarding the U.S. Supreme Court, who says that gridlock there wouldn’t also be better than change there?)
Sometimes, for things to stay as they are is the best realistically available alternative, even if voters might happen to think otherwise.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910–2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.