During his previous life as a real estate developer and casino magnate, Donald Trump reportedly had ties to prominent members of the mafia, including Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno and Paul Castellano. Judging from Trump's first few months in office, their negotiating tactics appear to have left quite the impression on him. That's the basic thesis of Paul Krugman, whose Friday column dismantles the president's latest scheme to extort the Democratic Party into repealing Obamacare.
As The New York Times columnist explains, the Affordable Care Act is dependent on cost-sharing subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for working-class families and to keep insurance companies in the system for those with higher incomes. But on the heels of the American Health Care Act's embarrassing defeat, Trump appears determined to punish his political enemies, even if that means millions of people suffer needlessly. Here's how Krugman translates for the president:
“I don’t want people to get hurt.” (Nice shop you’ve got here, shame if something were to happen to it.) “What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.” (I’m making them an offer they can’t refuse.)"
This gambit isn't just callous and cruel, it's also remarkably stupid, as Democrats have "no incentive whatsoever" to bend to the president's political will. Trump can wreak havoc on private markets, but he can't touch Medicaid without congressional approval. By repealing and replacing Obamacare, Democrats would almost certainly be sabotaging both, so why play ball?
Krugman also believes any efforts to blame the Affordable Care Act's failures on the opposition would likely blow up in Trump's face.
"Voters tend to blame whoever holds the White House for bad things, and in this case they’d be right," he writes. "If there is a death spiral, it will have Mr. Trump’s name on it, and deservedly so."
Read Paul Krugman's column at The New York Times.