Editorials

A blue-collar betrayal on health care

The Observer editorial board

President Trump visited the Capitol this week to rally support for a health care bill.
President Trump visited the Capitol this week to rally support for a health care bill. AP

Millions of working-class Americans enthusiastically supported candidate Donald Trump because they were convinced he would help them better share access to the country’s wealth. President Trump has spent the past several days betraying those voters in a desperate attempt to score a political victory.

As of late Thursday, the health care bill he negotiated faced an uncertain outcome in the U.S. House, not to mention a skeptical U.S. Senate. But one thing is certain: The American Health Care Act that Trump desperately fought for this week would strip insurance from millions of Americans, including his supporters, and weaken insurance coverage for potentially millions more.

It’s just the latest example of why the man dubbed the blue-collar billionaire never deserved that title.

Some of his supporters are waking up to that reality, as shown by national polling out this week that had Trump’s approval at a dismal 37 percent, the first real sign that his core base of support is beginning to crack. The stories are becoming legion – low-income Americans dismayed by what they see coming from the White House.

There’s wheelchair-bound, stroke-stricken Georgia resident Linda Preast on “CBS This Morning” saying she was surprised at proposed cuts to a program that helps fund “Meals on Wheels” because she was “under the influence that [Trump] would help us.”

There’s the West Virginia town hall on MSNBC filled with dozens of Trump supporters lamenting the possible end of the Affordable Care Act, which could make it harder to successfully make black lung claims.

That misplaced trust was best illustrated by what Charla McComic, a 52-year-old former first-grade teacher from Tennessee, told the Washington Post.

McComic said it was a “blessing from God” made possible by President Trump that her son’s health-insurance premium dropped from $567 per month to $88 after he lost his job. She was wrong, of course; her son still has health insurance because of the health law the man she voted for is trying to repeal.

As a candidate, Trump convinced millions of Americans to ignore his past treatment of working Americans, including fraud claims through Trump University (which led to a $25 million settlement) and scores of small contractors he refused to pay.

As president, he has proposed less funding for heating assistance and after-school feeding and academic enrichment programs. About $3 billion for affordable housing, community development and homeless programs would be cut. The critical Delta Doctors program, which fills health care gaps in rural areas of the country, would be jeopardized.

Not all Trump voters are being betrayed. Those in the high-income categories he won are poised to benefit from one of the largest upward transfers of wealth in U.S. history.

If Trump is successful, the financial status of his most ardent supporters would have been made less secure. But he could still lay claim to the billionaire portion of his unearned blue-collar billionaire title, which seems more important to the president than keeping his promise to the Americans who need him – and trusted him – most.

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