Donald Trump, in one of his first Tweets after a trip abroad that left at least one major foreign leader questioning if the United States is still a reliable ally, announced what appears to be a reversal of his White House’s stance on health care.
I suggest that we add more dollars to Healthcare and make it the best anywhere. ObamaCare is dead – the Republicans will do much better!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2017
Trump is right that adding “more dollars to Healthcare” could be beneficial. Though the Affordable Care Act drastically reduced the percentage of Americans without health insurance, inadequate subsidies have led to high premiums and deductibles. More money could help fix this problem, making health care more affordable for people in the individual insurance market.
But the Trump administration supports legislation, which recently passed the House, that would strip health care from 23 million people by 2026. As the Congressional Budget Office explains, Trumpcare achieves this result in part by cutting federal healthcare spending by more than a trillion dollars. Among other things, these spending cuts finance hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the rich.
In a previous administration, if the president of the United States made an announcement like Trump’s health care tweet, it would be a major event. Past presidents typically vetted their policy statements through their advisers and through other stakeholders within government. And a president’s statement that they would like to see more healthcare spending would indicate that the administration as a whole now supports more healthcare spending.
Trump, however, gave an interview last month which made it clear that he doesn’t understand how Trumpcare actually works. He’s repeatedly promised to protect programs like Medicaid, though he now supports a bill that cuts $834 billion from that program. And his budget would cut Medicaid even deeper — $1.3 trillion — over the next ten years.
The most likely explanation for Trump’s tweet, in other words, isn’t that the White House is abruptly shifting position. It’s much more likely that Trump just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Again.