Way back on June 8, 2014, Donald Trump — who by then had long since established himself in conservative circles as a prominent voice in birther conspiracy theories and anti-immigrant demagoguery — staked out a strikingly heterodox position: He wanted to save entitlement programs.
We have to make the U.S.A. RICH again so that we can afford to pay Social Security, Medicare,and Medicaid and STRONG to keep our enemies out— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2014
As a candidate during the 2015 GOP primary process, it was a theme he returned to. When former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also stepped up with a promise to protect Social Security and Medicare, Trump claimed total ownership of the pro-entitlement position — vowing specifically to defend Medicaid as well.
I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2015
Huckabee is a nice guy but will never be able to bring in the funds so as not to cut Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. I will.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2015
Trump portrayed this issue as a key differentiator. Defending Medicaid was a central plank of his pitch for American greatness.
The Republicans who want to cut SS & Medicaid are wrong. A robust economy will Make America Great Again! https://t.co/u25yI5T7E8— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2015
He even specifically referred to Ohio Gov. John Kasich as being excessively right-wing on the Medicaid issue.
I am going to save Medicare and Medicaid, Carson wants to abolish, and failing candidate Gov. John Kasich doesn't have a clue - weak!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2015
Now, of course, Trump has lined up behind a Senate health care bill that features draconian cuts to Medicaid:
- First, it cuts reimbursement rates to Medicaid expansion states, slowly phasing out federal support for the new enrollees.
- Second, it ends Medicaid’s open-ended commitment to covering the health care needs of eligible patients — sticking states with per capita spending caps.
- Third, it adjusts those payments over time to ensure that the money available per patient grows more slowly than the cost of providing medical coverage. Each year, a wedge will steadily open wider and wider between the money available for medical coverage and the cost of providing it.
That’s not really true, but even if you think it is, it’s true Medicaid certainly isn’t dead. But the Senate health care bill will kill it, and will do so in order to finance a large tax cut for wealthy people — something Trump’s economic team also promised not to do.