According to the Congressional Budget Office, the latest iteration of the American Health Care Act will strip 23 million people of their health insurance by 2026, gutting Medicaid and decimating coverage of pre-existing conditions. Then there's the Trump administration's newest budget plan, which calls for steep cuts to scores of federal assistance programs. The only logical conclusion to be drawn from these dual proposals, argues the New York Times' Paul Krugman, is that the president despises the very voters who elected him.
In his Friday column, Krugman hypothesizes how Trump's health care bill and austerity measures might affect a state like West Virginia, which voted overwhelmingly for him in the 2016 election. Twenty-nine percent of its residents are on Medicaid, 19 percent rely on food stamps and 4 percent receive disability payments via Social Security, the highest rate in the country and the lasting legacy of a lethal coal industry. If a Republican-controlled Congress has its way, the results would be "apocalyptic": "Hundreds of thousands would lose health insurance; medical debt and untreated conditions would surge; and there would be an explosion in extreme poverty, including a lot of outright hunger."
Why, then, would they cast their ballots for such a candidate? Krugman suspects many believed Trump would rethrone King Coal, this despite the fact that one in six West Virginians now works in health care and social assistance. Countless other were likely suckered by an oligarch masquerading as a populist—one they hoped would preserve or expand their essential benefits, even at the expense of other more vulnerable racial groups. (West Virginia is 93 percent white.) "What they got instead," he writes, "was the mother of all sucker punches."
"So many of the people who voted for Donald Trump were the victims of an epic scam by a man who has built his life around scamming," he continues. "In the case of West Virginians, this scam could end up pretty much destroying their state."
For Krugman, there are only two questions remaining: When will Trump's voters realize they've been conned? And will they cast their vote for a Democrat in 2020?
Read his column at the New York Times.