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Editorial: Understanding ‘Reagan Democrats’ and ‘TrumpCare’

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Posted on March 16, 2017 |
By Angelo S. Lynn



Any objective analysis of why many people who voted for Donald Trump remain strong supporters of the president — despite his questionable and perhaps treasonous connections to Russia’s hacking involving the presidential election, his intent to dismantle popular EPA protections that have cleaned up the nation’s waters and slowed down climate change, his intent to reduce taxes on the super rich while gutting services to the poor and middle class, and his recent embrace of the Republican-sponsored health care bill, which will be ruinous to millions of elderly and poorer white Americans who voted for Trump — falls under two umbrellas: regardless of what Trump does, they instinctively like what they consider his “tough talk,” “strong leadership,” and willingness to be politically-incorrect, and they are willing to blame bad legislation on “the congressional Republicans in power” rather than on their man in the White House.

That finding was revealed this week by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who coined the term “Reagan Democrats” back in the mid-1980s, after he re-visited Macomb County, Michigan to poll those same blue-collar whites who voted for both President Barack Obama (who won the county twice) and Trump, who won the county with 54 percent over Hillary Clinton.

Greenberg selected four focus groups with 35 non-college educated whites and found:

• So far, they had no buyer’s remorse: despite the drama of the opening weeks of Trump’s presidency, they think Trump is “sincere,” they blame the media for being “unfair” and criticize protesters for not giving Trump a chance “to do good things,” and they maintain he will “secure the border” and “bring back manufacturing jobs.”

• They also distrusted congressional Republicans to make good decisions, particularly on the economy and health care reform. Asked for impressions of Republicans generally, and some in the groups said the party “cared primarily about the rich,” but not so Mr. Trump.

• They like Trump because they see him as being distinct from the GOP. He’s not a typical politician, rather he’ll change the status quo in Washington, which means in this context, “challenge politics as usual and sideline the career politicians.” Amazingly, they said their vote for Trump was “against corruption and pay to play.”

• Importantly, the interviews also discovered that fixing the health care system was top on their minds. They believe “Obamacare” failed them and that Trump will “fix the problem.” If he can’t, or doesn’t, they will likely blame Congressional Republicans and not Trump, but still will be disappointed if the “fix” is worse than the status quo.

The study, which is worth reading in full http://tinyurl.com/zg5f53h, is full ofhead-scratching contradictions by the voters interviewed but is important to understand their hopes for Trump and their frustrations with President Obama’s tenure.

•••••••••••

Greenberg’s interviews were conducted before the Congressional Budget Office released its dismal review of the Republican’s American Health Care Act, or RyanCare as Trump’s team wants it to be known in case it bombs. And given the heavy emphasis the “Reagan Democrats” interviewed by Greenberg put in Trump’s ability to make health care less expensive and cover “everyone,” the stakes appear high for Trump. He did, after all, promise that he would propose a plan that would “lower costs, expand choices, increase competition and ensure health-care access for all Americans.”

This proposal doesn’t even come close. “TrumpCare,” as proposed, is more of a tax-relief bill. While up to 24 million people will lose their health insurance, according to the CBO, and insurance prices will increase significantly, total tax cuts amount to more than $600 billion, and that’s just the start.

As Washington Postcolumnist Catherine Rampell explains: “The Joint Committee on Taxation has released a series of estimates showing what some of the tax-related provisions of Trumpcare would do. Among the biggest are repeals of two ACA surtaxes on the highest-earning Americans: a 0.9 percent payroll tax add-on and a 3.8 percent tax on net investment income for couples whose incomes exceed $250,000 ($200,000 for individuals).Repealing these would cost $275 billion over the next decade.

“The law also axes other taxes, such as the tanning tax… and excise taxes on insurers, drug manufacturers and importers; and medical-device manufacturers and importers. Based on what the Joint Committee has scored so far — and it has not analyzed every revenue loser in the bill — these tax cuts come to about $600 billion.

“The presence of expensive tax cuts in a bill purportedly about health-care reform is not a side effect; it’s the entire point. They make it easier for Republicans’ (much bigger) individual and corporate tax cuts to sail through the Senate with minimal Democratic obstruction in a few months’ time. Why? Under normal circumstances, Democrats would almost certainly filibuster the coming tax overhaul, preventing it from ever getting to a vote. But Republicans can take the filibuster option away by using the reconciliation process, which is an option if, and only if, the tax bill doesn’t increase government deficits in the long term.”

That’s why TrumpCare has wings; it’s not about taking care of American’s well being, it’s about cutting taxes — and lots of them.

That’s one reason why Sen. Bernie Sanders was justified in his blistering response: “Throwing 24 million Americans off of health insurance, raising premiums for older low-income Americans, defunding Planned Parenthood and giving $275 billion in tax breaks to the top 2 percent is a disgusting and immoral proposal… The reality is that Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s bill is not a health care plan. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest people in America. It must be defeated.”

Still, what’s most amazing is all those Trump supporters who will likely continue to believe Trump’s plan will lower their premiums, right up until they get the higher bills and finally understand Trump has not been working for their interests, but rather the interests of the wealthiest few.

Angelo Lynn

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