It’s harder than Trump thinks to pull a thread or two out of the ACA.

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

All the papers this AM tell me of softening in some of president-elect Trump’s positions, including health care, immigration, trade, and more. Some of his aides are straight-up saying that a lot of that stuff was just campaign talk.

He wouldn’t be the first to make such pivots. Moreover, his campaign wasn’t exactly policy driven and many of his voters won’t be surprised to hear that no, Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall. During the campaign, almost every Trump supporter I met told me they didn’t believe everything he said. They just thought he’d shake things up.

It’s too early to know what to make of this alleged pivot; my instinct is not to make too much out of it. Trump may well turn out to be not that interested in wonky minutiae and will outsource it to people that are, like Ryan and Pence, which in turn implies the death of many progressive accomplishments. I’ve got a piece coming out on the wide swath of damage they could do if they wanted to, and their history suggests that they (e.g., Ryan) do, in fact, want to.

But speaking of wonkery, let’s take a shallow dive into Trump’s softening on health care, which in at least one key aspect, doesn’t make much sense. He reports that in his meeting with President Obama, the President convinced him that parts of the Affordable Care Act are worth preserving, including the requirement that insurers cover those with pre-existing conditions.

But for that part of the law to work, you need healthy people to subsidize sicker people, as the latter must be covered. That implies mandates, and if you mandate coverage, you must have individual subsidies and “community rating” (no individual underwriting; some variation within geo-areas allowed based on age and tobacco use). Without such provisions, the pre-existing condition requirement is meaningless, as insurers will offer unaffordable care to such persons.

In other words, there are lots of interacting, moving parts to the ACA, and it’s hard to pull out one thread.

One other item that caught my eye this morning. A Trump economic advisor claimed that the 45 percent tariff on China would only be used as an offsetting tax against currency manipulation. So if China reduces the value of yuan 45 percent relative to the dollar, they’ll raise the tariff. That would take legislation, and is actually much like a bill proposed by Sandy Levin, Sherrod Brown and others in years past. I should note that this bill always got big Congressional majorities but the leadership and the Obama administration opposed and blocked it.

It is said: You campaign in poetry, govern in prose. The poetry didn’t rhyme and some of the prose isn’t making a ton of sense. So, I’ll be carefully watching this alleged pivot.

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This was reposted from On the Economy.

Jared Bernstein joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May 2011 as a Senior Fellow.  From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Between 1995 and 1996, he held the post of deputy chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. He is the author and co-author of numerous books, including “Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed?” and nine editions of “The State of Working America.”

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