The use of social media to promote a coherent and virtuous agenda is indispensable to a modern president … after his personnel and policies are in sync with his messaging.
But when facts and details no longer matter and “shallow state” personnel that don’t share the president’s beliefs are hired to oversee that vision, the social media posts become a joke. This dynamic was on full display this morning when President Trump sent out the following two tweets that are not only contradicted by his own policies and personnel but contradict one another:
3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
If Republicans are going to pass great future legislation in the Senate, they must immediately go to a 51 vote majority, not senseless 60...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
Trump wants Obamacare and its purveyors to collapse on their own and to use that as leverage for them to deal. That is a great strategy. Except, it’s the opposite of what the president is actually doing.
The president has two weapons in his arsenal, as outlined below, to dramatically influence that collapse and he is not using them. Worse, he is continuing Obama-era executive policies that violate the Constitution and he could end them without even dealing with the Senate, much less a 60-vote threshold.
As we noted last week, Obama illegally used executive authority in two areas of the health care law to shield both Congress and insurers from the inherent pain of Obamacare’s dysfunction. He granted members of Congress subsidies for their health care plans, in contravention to the written law of the ACA. He also gave insurance companies monthly “ransom” bailout payments from funds never appropriated by Congress.
Trump could end these policies overnight by simply following the law and the Constitution.
Yet, thus far, he has only used his pen to illegally bail out insurance companies, not to 1) discontinue bailouts, and 2) overturn Obama’s order giving subsidies to Congress. This is not the fault of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska., the filibuster, or the Senate parliamentarian. It’s the fault of his own administration.
Both of these policies will help force Congress and the insurance companies to cooperate with a conservative fix to health care, assuming that is what he wants. Were members of Congress to lose their subsidies, they would feel the full brunt of premiums rising to $20,000 and would be spurred to action. If insurance companies didn’t get their bailout funds, they would be forced to play ball with our system of “don’t regulate me, but don’t subsidize me” – or face a collapse.
Trump continuing those subsidies only serves to prop up Obamacare and allow insurers to bribe him rather than threatening them to come to the table – the exact opposite of his Twitter message. Worse, the bailout of insurance is emblematic of the foundational problem with health care – that insurance uses the boot of government to take over health care, inflate the cost on the supply side, and perpetuate a need for their product no matter how expensive it is, simply because insurers know government will step in for them.
Even if the subsidies were legally appropriated, it would be immoral to send subsidies for co-pays and deductibles to insurers while they are earning record profits. These should be given to health care providers, not insurance companies. It’s the premiums that are paid to insurance, not the deductibles and co-payments, a point lost on the political class.
Better still, Trump could give a televised address to Congress railing against the insurance cartel for destroying the doctor-patient relationship and threaten that if they continue to support the regulations, he’ll slap them with the only real regulation they should be subjected to – anti-trust and anti-price-fixing laws.
That would not only solve Obamacare, it would solve the original sin of why health care is so overly inflated. That would truly be in line with the spirit of Trump’s style and his perceived campaign promises. Shake them down – don’t let them shake you down. Then, travel the country and deliver a vision for true patient-centered, market-driven care at places like the Oklahoma Surgery Center. Use your God-given mega-platform. Show leadership. We already know it won’t come from congressional Republicans. That’s why you were elected.
The radical disconnect between Trump’s tweets and his actual policies and personnel was again on full display just minutes later when reports surfaced that Secretary of Defense James Mattis was furious about Trump announcing on Twitter the end of Obama’s transgender social experimentation in the military. On Wednesday, we praised Trump’s decision, but once again, the fact that he appointed people who don’t share these values at almost every level is rendering his messaging moot. When Mattis is not busy lobbying for the appointment of Democrats to top Pentagon positions, he is constantly trying to fight conservatives in Congress who want to end the social engineering.
Mr. President, MAKE IT STICK! Twitter is not a policy outcome. Also, impressive resumes and personas who interview for cabinet jobs do not necessarily share the agenda of your voters. If you fail to check into their actual worldview ahead of time, you will continue to be sandbagged by the likes of Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. We can’t afford another three and a half years of this incoherence and dysfunction.
It's also time for conservatives to recognize that a positive tweet from Trump on a conservative issue is not tantamount to the ball being in the end-zone, not by a long shot. They must demand the administration either put it together or pack it up. Until we find a way to turn the State Department and the Pentagon into Twitter, we have no other choice.