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Thursday, October 6, 2016
Trump’s ace in the hole
Howard J. Warner
Bill Clinton, in a moment of honesty, has handed Donald Trump a gift that can gain him many votes, if he will use it effectively. Earlier this week, the former president, in a critical October surprise, was shockingly candid and stated that Obamacare is a "crazy system." He went on to clarify that the Affordable Care Act of 2010, in which hardworking middle-class employees and small businesses pay substantially higher premiums to subsidize up to 25,000,000 additional patients suddenly thrown into the health care system, is not workable. Why can't Republicans make this statement?
These people see their medical care quality decline as they wait longer for appointments and must often be content to be treated by nurse practitioners and physician assistants since there are too few physicians to provide immediate care. Many have found that their longtime doctors have left private primary care and become employees of hospitals or large groups, further eroding personal relationships. My own personal experience has mirrored this situation.
During this campaign, it is clear that Hillary has avoided much discussion on the issues and has run against Donald Trump's personality. For her and her surrogates in the media, this is a winning strategy. But, as vice presidential candidate Mike Pence demonstrated on Tuesday, a sober, calm rebuttal involving the issues is a winning approach for Republicans. Will Trump be able to learn from this and change his ways?
Trump is giving another speech today but is traveling with Gov. Christie for debate prep. Can he learn how to deflect rather than defend previous actions? Can he become more humble and less braggadocious? He has canceled Thursday and Friday events for practice. He will attend an event on Saturday in Wisconsin en route to St. Louis, keeping his promise to that state's supporters.
Much has been stated about Hillary's foreign policy failures in Egypt, Syria, and Libya, and with Russia. Trump has focused, as did Pence, on the tax policy differences. The differences related to economic policy, job creation, and trade are stark and clear to enunciate. However, little discussion has occurred during this campaign related to health care. It is Trump's ace in the hole.
Mitt Romney chose not to focus on this in 2012 due to his involvement in Massachusetts's legislation, much to his demise. Reminding voters that HillaryCare was a policy failure during the Clinton presidency helps with domestic issues, as it was regulation-driven. Hillary supports Obamacare and wants to tweak it. If the private system fails, as insurance company withdrawals from the state exchanges increase due to financial losses, then liberals will push for a single-payer system. Reminding the electorate that the Veteran's Administration hospitals are such an example can blunt this call.
Trump advocates replacement of Obamacare. Popular portions of the bill could be retained, such as the ability to buy insurance without waiting periods and covering children until age 26. The individual mandate and tax penalty for those without coverage is "un-American" for many opponents. Eliminating many of the taxes and government control of educational loans would garner more support and lower business costs. Allowing people to purchase insurance across state lines would lower costs. Allowing poor families to buy into the Medicaid system demonstrates that Republicans are caring and helps women. Block-granting this system will allow 50 states to innovate.
Pundits wonder about October surprises affecting both campaigns. Bill Clinton has handed this one to Trump should he choose to use it.