New Republic Writer Attacks ‘Sham’ Populist Trump’s ‘Incredible Cruelty’ on Health Care

Throughout the presidential campaign, especially during primary-and-caucus season, many on the right called Donald Trump a squish, even a liberal. They should be much happier now, contends The New Republic’s Jeet Heer, in part because Trump’s position on health care indicates that he’s “succumbing to the central policy of conservative Republicans: cruelty to the needy.”

“Even if we take Trump’s [‘ObamaCare will explode’ tweet] as fact…it would be a remarkable dereliction of duty,” opined Heer in a Wednesday piece. “Republicans [would] have a responsibility to fix it, or to replace it with a humane alternative. To simply wait for the ACA to ‘explode’ would be to knowingly doom countless Americans to uncertainty about one of the most fundamental matters in life: their health…Trump’s apparent intention to sabotage Obamacare shows that his campaign’s empathetic populism was always a sham -- or, more generously, that he lacks the power to rule his party.”

Heer noted that the harshness of Trump the candidate was directed at Mexicans, Muslims, and other “imagined enemies of his supporters…By contrast, Trump promised to help Americans in need. [He] promised that he wouldn’t cut Medicaid, and that nobody would lose health insurance.” As POTUS, however, his “incredible cruelty” has aligned him with righty ideologues like Paul Ryan, who “has long advocated for cutting programs that help Americans in need. The Ryan budget last year [was] consistent with Republicans’ broader, longstanding war on the poor.”

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In Heer’s view, the notion that Trump was a nice guy never was credible, given that he “ran as a Republican at a time when his GOP cohort in Congress embraced ever more extreme economic austerity…Trump’s cruelty was indeed predictable based on his biography. He has spent his entire adult life embodying the ideals of unfettered plutocracy, enriching himself without any concern for the public good. Such conditions and character don’t usually lend themselves to a committed populism.”

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