President-elect Donald Trump ran an unorthodox campaign both in the Republican primaries and general election. Though undeniably offering some rather common conservative views on social issues, Trump also offered voters a populist economic message which included rolling back corporate trade agreements and preserving Social Security and Medicare.
The message worked and Trump was able to win over working class voters that had voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012.
But those commitments put Trump at odds with at least one of Congress’ most important leaders, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Ryan has been plotting to destroy Medicare for years and has put forward a detailed plan to privatize and eliminate the program.
Falsely claiming that Medicare is “going broke,” Ryan has been pushing a voucher program he labels “premium-support” on his congressional website. It will phase out Medicare as a government benefit.
The voucher/premium-support will force a “Medicare” recipient to buy private insurance, though it will likely not cover the full amount, which is why it lessens the burden on the federal budget. If the support covered the full amount then people should just continue to use Medicare, which has lower administrative costs [PDF] than private insurers.
In other words, Paul Ryan’s plan is to force future (maybe even current) seniors back into the private insurance market where they will undoubtedly get worse coverage and, subsequently, healthcare. It’s a genuinely terrible idea, which is why multiple Republicans have told Ryan to forget it, including well-known Trump supporters.
Medicare IS NOT WHAT THE ELECTION WAS FOUGHT OVER. If Ryan wants to change Medicare, then run for president on that & see how far you get. https://t.co/NrJfdXC6C3
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) November 27, 2016
So, given President-elect Trump’s commitments and the popularity of Social Security and Medicare, will he go along with Paul Ryan’s plan to destroy the programs? If he does, it is a safe bet that most of his working class supporters will be open to making a different choice in 2020, if not in the 2018 midterms.
Such a betrayal would not only destroy popular social insurance programs but it would likely collapse the entire Trump coalition, which breaks with free market dogma in favor of national unity and prosperity.