Life under Donald Trump resembles what I would imagine a bad LSD trip to be. Psychedelically shocking news one day. Excruciating news the next. Today we awoke to an executive order ending a regulation that officials consider climate change when making decisions. But on which front should critics rally? “You can’t shoot at everything that moves,” senior Senator Elizabeth Warren told a New England Council audience yesterday. She urged focusing on immigration, health care, and budget cuts (which obviously covers a lot.) Wherever you concentrate, she urged, “Please get in this fight,” Warren intoned. “Please be in this.”
Amidst all the celebration of the House’s inability to pass Trumpcare (or call it Ryancare), we must remember that it was the right move for the wrong reason. It didn’t fail because it would potentially add 24 million additional individuals to the ranks of the unenrolled over ten years, slash more than $800 million from Medicaid, increase premium costs or because it was effectively a transfer of money from the poorest to the rich and upper middle class. But the fight goes on. The bill was killed because the deep cuts didn’t go far enough to satisfy the Freedom Caucus (formerly the Tea Party) of the GOP. It was also defeated because activists turned up the heat on House members at Town Halls and elsewhere in their districts. They got in the fight.
The health care battle is not over. Speaker Paul Ryan said he plans to resurrect the bill in some form, and, in the meanwhile, Trump can do great damage to the Affordable Care Act, making his dire warning about Obamacare’s demise a self-fulfilling prophecy. Already he has ordered the pullback of outreach to promote enrollment. Now, it seems his administration won’t fight a House Republican lawsuit that would stop subsidy payments to insurers, driving insurers out of health insurance exchanges, a key part of the law. To make matters worse, Trump can now unilaterally stop the payments.
Often mentioned by national media as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, Warren can be irritating in campaign mode but spoke in well modulated tones without sacrificing her usual passion and clear-eyed focus. In turn, she was warmly received. In the early years of her young political career, she would bolt from a gathering, often rebuffing questions from journalists. In this too, she has mellowed, taking fewer questions from the audience but stopping to speak at length with reporters on her way out.
Massachusetts can expect her to be a point person on Donald Trump’s threat to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities and towns to coerce cities to collaborate with immigration officials, turning illegals over to them for deportation. Such ultimatums are unconstitutional according to the Supreme Court, she said, and would be harmful to our innovation economy, our institutions of higher ed, our tourism economy.
Warren will also be out front in opposing Trump’s budget cuts, which could put at risk $11 billion in Massachusetts, not just National Institute of Health grants, brownfield cleanup grants, Pell grants but also heating assistance for the elderly poor and much much more. Clearly the extremes of the new administration have left her in a position of national leadership.
Donald Trump and his policies are a perfect foil to Warren’s enduring theme of how the middle class is always getting whacked. Her blue state base loves her. The next couple of years will test whether this red state Oklahoma native can hone her message and similarly appeal to those disaffected Americans who voted for Trump. The former Harvard law professor is poised to be a bubble breaker. Will she?
I welcome your comments in the section below. To be alerted when a new blog is posted, click on “Follow’ in the lower right portion of your screen.