A way to leave other people holding the bag

Back at the beginning of the month Paul Krugman pointed out at the Times the way scamming works for Trump. There was the issue of his tax returns for instance – he got away with simply not releasing them, and lying that it was because he was being audited.

[A]t this point it’s apparent that Mr. Trump believed, correctly, that he could violate all the norms, stonewall on even the most basic disclosure, and pay no political price.

Indeed, it’s clear that Hillary Clinton was in effect punished for her financial transparency, while Mr. Trump was rewarded for his practice of revealing nothing about how he makes money.

Which shouldn’t be how any of this works – and yet it did.

Therefore they will just go on refusing to be transparent, and probably get away with it.

Take, for example, the budget process. Normally, an incoming administration issues a fiscal plan conveying its priorities soon after taking office. But as the budget expert Stan Collender notes, there are strong indications that the Trump administration will ignore this precedent (and, possibly, the law) and simply refuse to offer any explanation of how its proposals are supposed to add up. All we’ll get, probably, are assurances that it’s going to be great, believe me.

We can guess that, Krugman says, because we can already see that it’s what they’re doing about the health insurance scam.

Obamacare has worked. It’s not perfect, by a long shot, but the number of uninsured Americans has plummeted to its lowest level in history. And Americans newly insured thanks to Obamacare are highly satisfied with their coverage.

So what can the G.O.P. offer as an alternative? We know what Republicans want: a free-for-all in which insurance companies can discriminate as they like, with minimal regulation and drastic cuts in government aid.

They want what there was before: basically a fuck you to people who didn’t get insurance through their jobs – coupled with complete freedom for employers not to provide insurance to their workers. Indeed, and to the surprise of no one, health insurance was one of the benefits Trump was refusing to provide workers at his Las Vegas casino until he hurriedly settled with the union a couple of week ago. Republicans want Nothing: a “whatever” system where the fortunate get coverage and the rest get Nothing.

Their plan is to delay doing anything until after 2018 (but then why not delay until after the next election, and the one after that, and so on? I don’t know), and figure out a way to blame the Democrats when they do repeal it.

It’s all very Trumpian, if you think about it. An honest memoir of the president-elect’s business career would be titled “The art of the scam.” After all, his hallmark has been turning a profit on failed business projects, because he finds a way to leave other people holding the bag.

In this case, the effort to replace Obamacare will clearly fail miserably in terms of serving the American people, perhaps especially the white working-class voters who backed Mr. Trump. But it could nonetheless be a political success if the public can be convinced to blame the wrong people.

And after seeing what just happened, we know that the public probably can be convinced of that, because it can be convinced of anything. (Enough of the public, that is. Not the whole public. Not even the majority…) As Krugman says –

You might think that this would be impossible, given the obviousness of the ploy. But given what we’ve seen so far, you have to take seriously the possibility that they’ll get away with it.

Especially when they have so much of the opinion-offering class helping them, with all this bullshit about the angry white working class, as if Mr No I’m Not Going To Provide Health Insurance Trump were the buddy of the working class. Oh never mind all that, they murmur, anxiously pushing it behind a door. Just read that brilliant J D Vance fella and repent your elitist ways.

Scam scam scam.

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