Populism and the Politics of Health: What’s next on health care? Truly, I have no idea. The AHCA is a real stinker… But … starting off the Trump legislative era with the crashing and burning of Obamacare repeal would deeply damage Trump… So they will pull out all the stops.
But why are Republicans having so much trouble? Health reform is hard… But there’s a more fundamental issue: who is being served?
Obamacare helped a large number of people at the expense of a small, affluent minority: basically, taxes on 2% of the population to cover a lot of people and assure coverage to many more. Trumpcare would reverse that, hurting a lot of people (many of whom voted Trump) so as to cut taxes for a handful of wealthy people. That’s a difference that goes beyond political strategy. …
And yet, and yet: Trump did in fact win over white working-class voters, who thought they were voting for a populist…
This ties in with an important recent piece by Zack Beauchamp on the striking degree to which left-wing economics fails, in practice, to counter right-wing populism… Why?
The answer, presumably, is that what we call populism is really in large degree white identity politics, which can’t be addressed by promising universal benefits. Among other things, these “populist” voters now live in a media bubble, getting their news from sources that play to their identity-politics desires, which means that even if you offer them a better deal, they won’t hear about it or believe it if told. For sure many if not most of those who gained health coverage thanks to Obamacare have no idea that’s what happened.
That said, taking the benefits away would probably get their attention, and maybe even open their eyes to the extent to which they are suffering to provide tax cuts to the rich. …
… Trumpism is faux populism that appeals to white identity but actually serves plutocrats. That fundamental contradiction is now out in the open.