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A glance back and a look forward.

November 14, 2016

To put a period on the campaign, the only two “isms” that mattered in the end were populism and elitism.

The former is defined as “of or representing the common people” and the latter as ” of or representing a socially superior group.”

Apparently there were more populist voters than there were people who believe in and need the elitists, i.e. those self-identifying as the hereditary superiors to the rest of the country, to think for them.

A guy named Trump won and a lady named Clinton did not, and that’s the end of that story.

Finis, finito, done.  If you don’t like the electoral college, then work to find a better (not more riggable) way.  You’ll probably have company from both sides of the political spectrum.

Other than that, take your thumb out of your mouth and move on.

What’s next, ideologically?

It’s really hard to recall the last time when ordinary citizens had even a shot at a real voice in government.

It almost happened in 2010 with the advent of the Tea Party movement. That group really never coalesced on a national scale, partially due to a thoroughly unlikeable set of spokespeople.

Although the Tea Party elites, sometimes known as the rabid right, never formally admitted it, they really did (and still do) want to figuratively push Granny off the cliff.

To these people, a diet is where you stop eating completely, and if you don’t die, you’ll look really great in a bikini. If you do die, at least you’ll be one hell of a sexy corpse.

The public saw the Ted Cruz/Tea Party wing of the GOP as the sink-or-swim party, and a lot of them were barely treading water as it was.

That explains why Senator Cruz, is well, still Senator Cruz.

Suffice it to say, the hard right, rabid right, alt-right or whatever you want to call them did not win the election for Donald Trump.

It’s not very SEO-friendly, but the coalition that elected Donald Trump could almost be called the Middleist Party.

No way, no how is President-elect Trump a large C conservative, a Tea Party darling or even a lifelong Republican.

That’s OK, because none of those labels describe the people that voted for him either. Expecting him to act exactly  like any of those groups is not realistic.

The hard right didn’t win, because most Americans are not of that mind.

Reality meets rhetoric

That’s nowhere more evident than in the debate over Obamacare.

Although there hasn’t yet been a lot published about it, the rabid right is not happy with any hint by President-elect Trump that he might be keeping a single idea from Obamacare.

That’s despite evidence that the only two things America does like about the ACA  are the pre-existing condition coverage and keeping kids who may well still be in school on their parent’s policies until age 26.

If there is significant blowback over repealing the ACA, it will likely be over those issues.

For those that are already grumbling under their breath about broken campaign promises, Candidate Trump had a catastrophic coverage option in his campaign for months, and there is precedent.

Many states have had some form of high-risk pool or catastrophic coverage for some time.

The problem is that those plans also tend to be catastrophically unaffordable.

HSA or Health Savings Accounts  work really well for paying the average 20% co-pays for routine office visits or minor procedures, but they can’t begin to pay the $1,000/month-plus CCP (catastrophic coverage plan) premiums.

The other fly in the ointment is that there will still be people who can’t afford insurance, period.

That’s the working poor that got stuck with the “penalty” or “uninsured tax” but without access to the subsidies.

It never ever made much sense to tell families that couldn’t afford 5, 6 or 700 dollars for a insurance policy every month that they then had to pay an extra 2 or 3 grand a year for being uninsured

OK, so how do people pay for coverage?

Maybe with a new, all-inclusive tax.

That’s an idea that literally draws howls of anguish from the right. Remember “Read my lips, no new taxes?”  That didn’t work out well for Bush 41, and it probably won’t be feasible for the 115th Congress either.

Middleists have a pretty good idea (spoken covertly from behind their hands, in a tiny closet repeatedly swept for bugs) that at some point we are going to have to look at something on the order of a national sales tax.

The biggest questions are  (a), duration, i.e. should it be a stand-alone tax with a sunset provision, or should it replace income taxes altogether and (b)  size, i.e. should it be a very small tax of 1 or 2%  that everyone pays, or a big tax (10+%) only paid by the top 30-40% of the country (essentially still a subsidy)?

It’s the fairest way to spread the cost of fixing a lot of the budgetary ills of the country, but it’s unlikely that the new President’s transition team is quite ready to bring the idea out into the light at this point.

While intelligent compromise is the central strategy of any good deal, President Trump knows he is going to have to be mindful of giving up too many of his core campaign ideals.

His selection of both Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus as co-managers of his administration would indicate that he is aware of that high wire act.

The country has never had the benefit of a businessman’s experience in the Oval Office before. It should be fascinating to see how President Trump tackles these problems.

From → op-ed

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