As Joseph Arpaio’s federal case headed toward trial this past spring, President Trump wanted to act to help him. The former sheriff had been a close ally in the zany world of Trump’s racism political buddies, ever since the birtherism days. So he asked his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to drop the criminal case against Arpaio. Sessions, however, was not enthusiastic. He told the president that would be “inappropriate”, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation, which is a very polite euphemism for “starting a political hurricane“.
In spite of the foolishness of Trump, who is lounging happily at Camp David this evening, at a nice safe distance from the actual hurricane, John Kelly has kept right along running the show. He was spared the task of removing one of the final holdouts from the Bannon wing of the new administration, Sebastian Gorka, whose resignation came Friday night amid several chaotic announcements from the White House.
A presidential directive banning transgender recruits became more than a tweeting earlier this week also, but it was the announcement that Texan immigration checkpoints would stay open, even in the face of the coming Hurricane Harvey, that caused the most disgust and outrage. This move, breaking decades of precedent and astounding many with its callousness and lack of forethought, is one of the most alarming signs yet of the president’s inablility to understand consequences.
However, a ray of hope appeared in the form of the recent comments of James Mattis to American troops stationed abroad. “Our country right now, it’s got problems we don’t have in the military,” Mattis said. “You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it.”
This is the latest in a growing trend. What little decency there is in the Trump administration, is coming from the Pentagon. All that comes from the White House itself is one continuous mess. Trump’s disorganization has made it impossible for him to get anything positive done. The other branches of government have blocked his worst ideas. Our judicial system has held firm, and saved us time and again. Congressional Democrats have stood firm in a bloc and refused steadfastly to go along with whatever it is the Republicans are offering. Their agenda doesn’t exist, outside the sabotaging of Obamacare. Their efforts have failed so many times, and their president is going to seed in so many ways, that it’s hard to predict what comes next for them.
It has long been a maxim of human life that it is easier to destroy than create. And Donald Trump has at every turn demonstrated to the world that his capacity for pettiness knows no bounds. Against the wishes of even other Republicans, Trump has threatened repeatedly to cut off the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers that allow the the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to keep functioning.
Under this life-saving legislation, the federal government reimburses insurance companies for the discounts on copays and deductibles they’re required by law to give to low-income customers, which is the only way that 23 million Americans can continue to keep breathing.
Trump has always scoffed at social programs. This was clearly evidenced by the savage shame that was his new budget plan. He has called them “bailouts,” and held forth at bitter length about the supposed evils of them during the drama of the multiple failed attempts by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the public health care law that has long eluded their capture.
Trump is wavering on continuing to make good on these payments to insurers, even though the Congressional Budget Office just released an analysis concluding that ending the payments will increase the national deficit by $194 billion, over the next 10 years. For another several weeks, President Trump will be deciding whether the payments will continue long-term, or be cut off altogether. No one should assume it will go the right way. He doubled down in his comments on the Charlottesville murder. He made his tweet regarding transgender soldiers an official order. He pardoned Arpaio, although the rest of the GOP begged him not to.
It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that there is nothing on the agenda right now more important than saving the Affordable Care Act. For us regular folks, all we can do is remain watchful and make our voices heard. Trump absolutely may sabotage the ACA by withholding these payments, just because he’s bitter at the way things are going. More evidence regarding secret meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin came out this week, and leaks came out of Mitch McConnell privately speculating that he doubts whether Trump can still save his presidency. Doubtful indeed, but just the same, don’t expect him to go quietly.