That didn’t take long.
Three weeks ago in this space I was praising President Donald Trump for negotiating with Democrats to raise the federal debt ceiling — which I deemed essential — and for phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program — which I consider well intentioned but most likely illegal.
Since then, POTUS has returned to form by behaving like a petulant child unfit to lead this great nation. Examples include:
- Picking a fight with the National Football League for allowing its players to exercise freedom of speech and expression.
- Belittling Puerto Rican leaders while their island lies in ruins courtesy of Hurricane Maria and then bragging about what a great job his administration is doing with relief efforts.
- Exchanging threats and insults with an ego-maniacal head of state possessing a thin skin and a significant military arsenal. (Makes one wonder if Kim Jong-Un took some leadership classes from Trump University.)
So much to criticize, so little space.
Tempting as all this low-hanging fruit may be, I’ll turn instead to everyone’s favorite never-ending story: health care.
With Congress failing for approximately the 10,000th time to repeal the misnamed Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, Trump has decided to initiate health insurance reform via executive order.
He’s already taken steps to undermine Obamacare participation by shortening the enrollment period, decreasing advertising and support and refusing to commit to cost-sharing subsidies for low-income enrollees.
(Apparently the strategy here is to exacerbate rather than minimize the fundamental problems with Obamacare, then try to blame Democrats should it collapse. Transparently placing partisanship before leadership in this manner is unlikely to fool anyone who wasn’t already willing to drink whatever Kool-Aid Trump is serving.)
Now Trump says he intends to sign measures to allow insurers to sell policies across state lines without adhering to state regulations while permitting individuals and businesses to form associations which would negotiate better prices with insurance companies.
Whether this initiative will have a significant impact on health insurance cost or quality is questionable. Unquestionable, however, is the fact that taking these steps via executive order circumvents existing federal law while undermining states’ rights.
This is not entirely dissimilar to what then-President Obama did with DACA in 2012. Five years later, Trump has labeled that action an executive overreach and initiated steps to dismantle the program.
If it was unethical and possibly illegal for Obama then, why is it acceptable for Trump now?
Republicans can’t have it both ways. If a major immigration policy shift such as DACA is best initiated by legislators rather than the chief executive, so too are major insurance regulatory changes such as the administration is currently suggesting.
Trump should start practicing what he’s been preaching by pitching his plan to legislators rather than attempting to run it around them.
But then, focus and consistency aren’t among his strong suits.