President Donald Trump is running the government like he ran his businesses — and it’s going about as badly as you’d expect.
On the August 23 episode of The Weeds, Matthew Yglesias and Sarah Kliff discuss the Trump administration’s decision to end the DACA program and Trump’s overall style of leadership, potential Obamacare sabotage and stabilization schemes, and a new white paper on the collapse of all-payer rate setting health care systems in the US.
The Trump administration’s approach to terminating DACA — essentially being noncommittal following its own the announcement to end the program in six months — is very similar, says Sarah, to their approach to other policy issues. They create a large amount of uncertainty by not officially ending or replacing older policies, instead leaving them in a grey-zone or “policy limbo.”
“You don’t usually create a policy that creates a bad situation and then say, ‘Okay, that will be the catalyst for creating a better situation,’ but a lot of the things of the Trump era are unprecedented,” Sarah says.
On health care, Matt says that while Congress is making a valid attempt to stabilize ACA markets, the White House is making an effort to undermine the program by decreasing Obamacare outreach.
And elsewhere in the health policy realm, a new white paper explores the collapse of all-payer rate setting health care systems on the East Coast. In these systems, the government sets the rates of reimbursement for health care services for public and private health insurance alike. Maryland is the only state that still has an all-payer health care program, and Sarah and Matt agree that Northern states shouldn’t have abandoned this approach so quickly.
Here’s Matt discussing Trump’s style of governing:
I think I understand what Donald Trump is thinking here. One of his very standard business practices is that he hires some people do to some work at an agreed upon price. Then when the work is complete, he doesn’t pay. Then when you complain that he hasn’t paid here, he raises some objections. He says, “Oh, the pianos weren’t right. I’m not paying.”
Then you keep saying, “No, you have to pay me,” and he doesn’t pay. And then at a certain point you are like, “How am I going to get this guy to pay me? I am going to have to sue him. Donald, I’m going to sue you. You have to pay me the money.” Then Donald Trump says back to you, “Oh, what’s interesting is that I have a team of lawyers on retainer all the time. They work for me one way or another, and you are going to have to pay your guy by the hour. We could have a lot of litigation over this, or you could take a check for 65 percent of what I owe you.”
And most often, people take the check for 65 percent. And this is remarkable stuff that was not discussed during the campaign because we had to focus on emails. But this is standard operating procedures to not pay what he has agreed to pay, and then use his deep pockets to bully people into accepting less than what he owes. It is fascinating that this works. It turns out that capitalism rests on the foundation on some level of people not wanting to be assholes, but Trump is just willing to be an asshole. And he thinks that he can legislate this way, and I think he’s wrong.
This works for him in business because he is the big fish so he has the leverage. And while it’s true that the president has more power than any other actor in the American political system, the president of the United States has very little leverage because when there is a disaster it is the president’s fault.
If bad things happen that definitely are his fault — because he was trying to engineer a crisis to get a border wall built — that is going to be his fault and everyone is going to know it.