Political think tanks and analysts deploy a lot of time — and ink — examining why so many poor and middle-class white Americans vote for conservative Republicans who oppose their best interests.
Some of the answers are obvious. Republicans have succeeded spectacularly at scapegoating non-whites for the nation’s problems. They’ve created an us-versus-them mentality that overshadows all other considerations at the polls. Donald Trump and Scott Walker have mastered the art of “divide and conquer,” as Walker describes the strategy — although it’s an open question whether Trump succeeded intentionally or merely by luck.
Meanwhile, the GOP has the single-issue evangelical voters in their back pocket. Those voters overlook virtually any atrocity committed by a politician who promises to end abortion, same-sex marriage and gender-neutral bathrooms. Witness their horror over the sexual assaults committed by Democratic supporter Harvey Weinstein and their acceptance of those perpetrated by Donald Trump. While Democrats have condemned Weinstein and some even returned his campaign contributions, Republicans like Paul Ryan are kissing the feet of the nation’s molester-in-chief — and evangelicals seem fine with that.
Liberals have watched and waited for the day when Republican voters would wake up and realize how they’ve been used. That day might have dawned — “might” being the operative word — when Trump issued an executive order to end a provision of the Affordable Care Act that provided cost-sharing subsidies from the federal government to insurance companies in order to offset the price of premiums.
About 6 million Americans benefited from the provision.
Nearly 70 percent of them live in states Trump won last November, including Wisconsin. To make up for the lost federal funding, health insurers may have to raise premiums substantially, potentially putting coverage out of reach for many consumers.
About 4 million people were benefiting from the cost-sharing payments in the 30 states Trump carried, according to an analysis of 2017 enrollment data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of consumers benefiting from cost sharing, all but one — Massachusetts — went for Trump.
So the question stands: Will Republicans putting health coverage out of reach be the elixir that wakes Trump’s sleepwalking supporters?
GOP ‘will own this’
Trump’s outrageous conduct as president has delighted those who enjoyed his antics during the campaign. But his latest move on healthcare has some Republicans worried the party will be blamed for the potentially devastating effects on insurance markets — and by extension, on people’s lives.
Trump has said his intention in eliminating subsidies is to shift the burden onto Congress to make his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare a reality. He seems unaware that Republicans control everything and yet have accomplished almost nothing legislatively.
This time will be different?
Not all Republicans think Trump’s healthcare move is helpful.
“I think the president is ill-advised to take this course of action, because we, at the end of the day, will own this,” Republican Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania told CNN. “We, the Republican Party, will own this.”
Dent is not running for re-election.