In my view, a column in the Washington Post takes a far too sympathetic view of coal country voters who backed Donald Trump by large margins who now worry that they will lose Obamacare benefits and health care coverage in general. Pleas that they did not believe Trump would really follow through on his promise to repeal Obamacare defy belief. All these low information - and seemingly low intelligence - voters needed to do is (i) look a Trump's history of lies and dishonest business practices to know he could not be trusted, and (ii) look at the GOP platform and Paul Ryan's agenda as revealed numerous times over the last four or more years. Truth be told, these voters and whether or not they live or die means nothing to Ryan and Trump. They allowed themselves to be scammed, eagerly believed lies, and, of course, fell for appeals to their bigotry and/or religious extremism. I for one have zero sympathy for these people. If they suffer now, they need to take a long look in the mirror to see the root cause of their problem. Here are column highlights:
Last night, CNN aired a terrific segment on people from coal country who voted for Donald Trump — but are now worried that his vow to repeal Obamacare will deprive them of crucial protections that enable them to stay afloat financially. This dovetails with other reporting that suggests a lot of Trump voters may be harmed by repeal of the law.
Which raises a question: Did voters such as these know they were voting for this? After all, Trump promised countless times throughout the campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act, didn’t he? If they are complaining about this now, don’t they have only themselves to blame?
No. I’m going to argue that, while Trump did repeatedly vow repeal, these voters were absolutely right to conclude that he would not leave them without the sort of federal protections they enjoy under Obamacare. That’s because Trump did, in fact, clearly signal to them that this would not happen.
The CNN segment features people who live in Eastern Kentucky coal country and backed Trump because he promised to bring back coal jobs. Now, however, they worry that a provision in the ACA that makes it easier for longtime coal miners with black lung disease to get disability benefits could get eliminated along with the law. That provision shifted the burden of proving that the disability was directly caused by work in the mines away from the victim. Those benefits include financial and medical benefits. Some benefits now also extend to the widows of miners who had black lung disease — or pneumoconiosis, a lung illness associated with inhalation of coal dust — after their husbands die. Other reporting has also confirmed widespread coal country worries about losing these protections.
One man who worked in the mines for 35 years told CNN’s Miguel Marquez:
“When they eliminate the Obamacare, they may just eliminate all of the black lung program. It may all be gone. Don’t matter how many years you got.”
The widow of a deceased miner, who is now trying to get the benefits, said she doesn’t want to see Obamacare repealed, and even suggested Trump may be on the verge of betraying her and others in the region:
“If he don’t come across like he promised, he’s not gonna be there next time. Not if I can help it.”
These coal country residents are not quite in the same situation as many of the law’s other beneficiaries, who are currently gaining access to health coverage due to increased federal spending and regulation. But they are all benefiting from increased governmental intervention under the law designed to expand health care and support to lower-income or sick people who were unable to secure it for themselves under the old system. Many of them would lose these benefits if the law is repealed.
There is some evidence that many of those people voted for Trump. The Wall Street Journal recently demonstrated that rural, aging, and working class counties that went overwhelmingly for Trump also showed large drops in the uninsured rate. Similarly, Gallup-Healthways data shows that among non-college, lower income whites — a Trump demographic — the uninsured rate has dropped 10 percentage points.
[T]hese coal country voters in the CNN segment were very clear: They don’t want to lose the protections Obamacare grants them. Other reporting has found similar worries in Trump country. Still other reporting has turned up examples of Trump voters who don’t actually believe he’ll take away their Obamacare.
So what did Trump really tell these voters?
Yes, Trump said endlessly that he’d do away with the ACA instantly. Yes, his own replacement plan would leave millions without coverage. But here’s the rub: Trump also went to great lengths to portray himself as ideologically different from most other Republicans on fundamental questions about the proper role of governmental intervention to help poor and sick people without sufficient access to medical care.
Now, Trump and congressional Republicans may indeed end up rolling back protections for millions who voted for him. But if that happens, and these voters do end up feeling betrayed by Trump, they will be right to feel that way — they will, in fact, have been scammed by Trump.
Perhaps, like other scam victims, they should have looked more closely at the fine print.
If you choose to believe a documented con-man and liar - who is also a demagogue - you really have no one to blame but yourself. These voters deserve to suffer the consequences of their own stupidity and bigotry. Cruel of me? Maybe. But given the damage these voters have done to the nation and its future, they need to pay a truly severe penalty.