Let’s finally be honest about the dishonesty of campaign 2016:
Many of you discovered early on that Donald Trump clearly connected with voters like you, who were mad-as-hell at being ignored by Washington. He heard and heeded the loudest pleas of the people: “Please lie to me!”
But of course there were plenty in the candidate pack who were eager to tell you anything you wanted to hear. And of course, you felt better when you got all your news from only those TV networks and websites that clearly reported it the way you like to hear it.
Yet Trump got your attention — and won your trust — because he was better at this game than most who’d been playing it far longer. He was the only P.T. Barnum in a pack of aluminum storm-door salespeople.
And let’s tell it like it was: It felt damn good to cheer for Trump, thumb your nose at the pundits and then cast your ballot for the businessman. It felt great to back a president you trusted to make America great again!
But now, although you don’t like saying this out loud, you know you are getting this oh-oh, here-we-go-again feeling. You’re beginning to wonder if this feel-good Trump presidency is really going to be good for you and your family, after all.
You’re even starting to get a sick feeling about health care: For years, it felt good to hoot and holler about the evils of Obamacare, which you’d heard was some kind of socialism and was going to be terrible. So you whooped it up with the repeal-and-replace cheerleaders. You saw that your Affordable Care Act premiums were increasing, big-time. You kept hearing about how the insurance providers were dropping out — and some states (maybe yours!) were down to one option, which means you had no choice at all.
And there’s a good reason you don’t remember hearing President Barack Obama or Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton warn you this might happen, or proposing plans to prevent it and fix whatever wasn’t working as expected. (They mainly avoided the subject, fearing Republicans would take any opportunity to publicly torpedo Obama’s proudest accomplishment.)
But now you’re beginning to realize that, while all the Republicans you trusted are good at repealing it, no one seems to know how to replace it with something that’s clearly better. And in fact, you’ve just discovered that the replacement plan that was just proclaimed as a solution by House Speaker Paul Ryan is apparently going to be much worse for your family and all the other folks who, like you, were trusting Trump voters.
Republicans who range from very conservative to centrists are opposing Ryan’s plan in tones that make it hard for you to tell whether they are Republicans or Democrats. The Congressional Budget Office, which is run now by a guy who was hand-picked by House Republicans, reports that 14 million people who’ve become insured under Obamacare will be uninsured in the first year this new plan becomes law. And worse yet, the Republican replacement plan favored by Trump and Ryan is apparently going to hit Trump voters hardest!
According to respected Republican and independent analysts: States that voted for Trump will apparently fare worse under the new replacement plan Trump and Ryan have just put forward than states that voted for Hillary Clinton. Rural residents (a pro-Trump base) are more likely to find their tax credits significantly reduced than urban and suburban residents (Clinton’s base).
People in the Clinton-voting states would see a $1,100 reduction in the tax credits they would receive. But people in the Trump-voting states would see their average tax credits reduced almost twice as much, $2,700, according to the calculations by the independent Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (One state, Alaska, is slated for a massive reduction in tax credits; but even when the analysts dropped Alaska from their Trump-state calculations, the average decline in tax credits in other Trump states was still $2,450.) Another study, by the Kaiser Family Foundation, measured results according to counties and got similar results.
So now you wonder: Could Republicans and Democrats have ever gotten together patriotically — just once? — and found a common sense fix for health care?
But you’ll never know. Because you’re asking the wrong question. The real question is: Will we voters ever again have the patriotic spirit to demand an end to the feel-good politics of pandering — and demand that our candidates earn our votes by having the guts to tell us the truth?
Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.