2016, Affordable Care Act — July 28, 2016 at 5:28 pm

There has never been a more important election for the working poor


A vote for Trump is vote to rip health insurance from 10 million low-income Americans


The greatest tragedy in American politics is that most poor people don’t vote.

This dooms us to escalating wealth inequality that’s becoming indistinguishable from economic feudalism.

And the second greatest tragedy is that that anyone might be tricked into suggesting that Donald Trump is somehow a champion of the downtrodden.

On a personal level he opposes workers, opposes higher wages and engages in the exact sort of exporting of jobs he blames for nearly all of our economic woes.

But what’s even more rotten is his policies would be catastrophic for millions of Americans who are finally getting ahead thanks to Medicaid expansion.

Trump has called for an end to Obamacare and its expansion of the program that guarantees the poor basic health coverage. He would turn Medicaid over to the state in the form of block grants and millions would lose coverage.

And we know this would happen because Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has made this policy a cornerstone of his health care “reforms.”

He hates Medicaid because he hates the safety net, which he has called a “hammock.” And expansion has made that net stronger than it’s ever been for the states that took the money.

“This is the kind of ripple effect,” Georgetown researcher Jack Hoadley explains. “It’s not just the patient now comes in and gets a service, or now comes in and is able to pay for the service as opposed to receiving charity care, but the dollars that are saved, or the dollars that are brought in to these institutions, really are used in ways that really fundamentally change the way care is delivered.”

So instead of making our entire health care system stronger as 5 million more Americans gain coverage— which could easily happen if the 19 holdout states just said “yes” to expansion — at least 10 million of the hardest working people in the country would be back not being able to afford a doctor, according to an estimate from the great Charles Gaba at ACASignups.net.

If Trump were a champion of the downtrodden, this might upset him. But Trump is the champion of people who want to punish the downtrodden.

Researcher Sean McElwee makes the case that racial resentment is driving Trump’s support — not some fabled “economic anxiety.”

Trump’s supporters more prone to racial stereotypes than most voters and less likely to be affected by the global trade he rants against. They also earn more than most Americans. And if economic anxiety were actually driving Trump’s support, Latinos and African-Americans would be flocking to him.

Thanks to Obama’s policies, in 2014, which happened to be the first year Obamacare went into full effect, we saw the first growth in the income of families in the bottom 99 percent since 1998. Personal income is up in 46 states and the consumer confidence of the lowest income workers is at a nine-year high.

Things in America aren’t perfect. They’re just better than they’ve been for most of this century, especially for the poor workers like Andy Saas of Kentucky who was able to save his teeth thanks to Obamacare.

And on November 8, we’ll decide if there will be more Andy Saases or more Donnie Gene Rippys, a Tennessee man who is mired and pain and debt because his state refused to expand Medicaid.

In 2012, we made this same choice, but it was all theoretical.

Never before has the direct well-being of so many Americans been subject to such a direct ballot referendum.

You may not believe that a bumbling, blustering rich guy would actually go through with stripping poor workers of basic health care if he wins.

But that’s exactly what Governor Matt Bevin is threatening if the federal government doesn’t allow him to make more demands on the poor beneficiaries of his state’s expansion, which happened under his Democratic predecessor.

And it’s exactly what will happen if Donald Trump fools America.

[CC photo by Will O’Neill | Flickr]