Donald Trump's budget, alongside the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the revised American Health Care Act, is a test of our capacity for outrage in American politics. Can we be as shocked about lies told in public, and revealed through appendix tables, as we are about lies told in private and revealed through shadowy leaks? Can we muster as much fury on behalf of the stark facts revealed by the Office of Management and Budget as for the titillating what-ifs being investigated by the Senate Intelligence Committee? Will we care as much about Trump's betrayal of the poor and the sick and the disabled as we do about his betrayal of James Comey and the Israeli intelligence services?
Because make no mistake: Trump lied in public about the most consequential policy decisions he is now making as president. He lied on the trail, and he is lying again now from the Oval Office. His budget, released on Tuesday, is an assault on the poor and the vulnerable, and a repudiation of the economic populism that sent him to the White House. The CBO analysis of the Republican health care bill — which Trump has fought to pass, and promised to sign — reveals the proposal would cost 23 million people their health insurance and force millions more onto the stingy, high-deductible insurance plans Trump promised to free them from.
None of this is interpretation or inference — these are the facts of the budget he put his name on and the health care bill he begged Congress to pass. We are not waiting for any whistleblowers to reveal their secrets or investigators to issue their subpoenas. We have the evidence right in front of us.
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"I am going to take care of everybody," Trump told 60 Minutes before being elected. "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." According to the Congressional Budget Office, the AHCA would lead to 23 million fewer people with health insurance than if Trump simply left the system alone.
Trump warned that "there was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us." But it is going to happen with him. The reason so many people lose health insurance under his plan is because they can't afford it, and under Trumpcare, if you can't afford it, you don't get it.
Trump promised he would make sure everyone had health insurance plans with "much lower deductibles." The AHCA removes regulations stopping insurers from offering yet higher deductibles than they do now, and then it shrinks and redesigns its tax credits to push people into the new, cheaper, plans. The results are so dystopic, CBO writes, that it expects millions of people to end up in "policies that would not cover major medical risks."