Spite as Policy

by on October 17, 2017 in Economics, Politics

There’s not much to say, but let me say it anyway:

Last week Trump simply stopped pretending he wants to make policy based on thought. He revealed, instead, that his primal driving force is to humiliate and stomp on anyone who stops him being in total control. Since Congress failed to deliver a “repeal and replace” just as he had advocated during the election campaign, Trump decided to let his inner spite flow. He decided to smash away at the Obamacare edifice regardless of the consequences in a child-like rage. He hadn’t got what he wanted. So people have to suffer. And suffer greatly.

So spiteful is his rage at being denied his original goal that Trump cares not one whit about the damage to ordinary citizen’s lives he is wreaking. That’s not the point: being concerned is for weak people. Domination and control is for strong people. And, boy, does Trump want us to cower in the shadow of his presence.

Apparently Trump’s calculation is that if he smashes away at the Affordable Care Act, if he undermines it sufficiently, if vents his anger and spews out his hatred of Obama enough, and if enough people feel the pain, then others — notably Congress — will be forced to come to heel. If not, then so be it, let people die, let people suffer, let people go without. In Trump’s contorted and vile mind, all that devastation is justified, it is part of his act.

Trump likes to imaging himself a deal maker. His method is based on a zero-sum approach. A deal is only good for him if someone else manifestly loses. He has no ability to give and take. He has no measure that allows nuanced or complex deal making. No, not at all: a deal is either a win or a loss. And the best way to arrive at a win is to demonstrate your willingness to tear down all and sundry until the opposition caves in. If the opposition doesn’t cave in, then all the destruction is their fault because they could have surrendered.

So when Trump stops the cash subsidies that have propped up the insurance markets he knows well what he is doing. He is driving up insurance premiums for everyone; he is undermining the entire healthcare system; he is adding substantially to the Federal deficit; he is hurting  insurance company profitability; and he is tossing people out of the system altogether. There is nothing good about any of it. He doesn’t care.

He lashes out by fiat.

He is driven by spite.

All because Congress didn’t deliver on his impossible promises.

His body language when he spoke about his actions tells us all we need to know. His actual language simply reinforced it.

He told us that Obamacare “no longer exists”; he has, he said ,”got rid of it”. More to the point he announced that the desperate  attempts going on in Congress to salvage something from his outburst, are only taking place because of his swathe of destruction. This latter assertion is, naturally, a total lie. Bipartisan efforts have been underway for over a month to come up with a fix to Obamacare. That they haven’t progressed far is due to his indifference: they don’t render unto Trump what he wanted. He wants to expunge the entire Obama legacy. He is entirely uninterested in fixing or improving anything. He, because of his insatiable ego, needs to be boss. And especially he needs to boss his predecessor, a black man far more popular, far more sensitive, for more intelligent, and far more aware of the needs of the country.

His attack on Obamacare last week wasn’t an act of policy. It was an act of spite.

In Trump’s case it is no longer possible to tell what else he might do in a fit of rage.

His policy is spite. It’s all he has.

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