Sound familiar? It was just about two weeks ago that our president was busy threatening to sabotage Obamacare unless Democrats agreed to negotiate a plan to repeal and replace it. Having gotten nowhere with that bit of bluster, it seems Trump has moved on to the wall, which he’s trying to secure funding for in the appropriations bill Congress must pass next week to avoid a government shutdown. Democrats have previously threatened to filibuster any legislation that included money for Trump’s metastasized stump-speech applause line, so the White House is attempting to play hardball. As budget chief Mick Mulvaney explained in an interview with Bloomberg Friday, the administration is offering $1 of funding for Obamacare’s crucial cost-sharing reduction subsidies for every $1 of money Democrats pony up for the wall. Here’s the full quote:
We’ve finally boiled this negotiation down to something that we want very badly, that the Democrats really don’t like, and that’s the border wall. At the same time there’s something they want very badly that we don’t like very much, which are these cost sharing reductions, the Obamacare payments. Ordinarily, in a properly functioning Washington, D.C., as in any business, this would be the basis upon which a negotiated resolution could be achieved. The question is how much of our stuff do we have to get, how much of their stuff are they willing to take, and that’s the way it should work. That’s the way that we hope that it works. We offer them $1 of CSR payments for $1 of wall payments. Right now, that’s the offer that we’ve given to our Democratic colleagues. That should form the fundamental understading that gets us to a bipartisan agreement.
The implicit threat here is that, if Democrats reject this deal, the White House will cease making the subsidy payments, and likely bring Obamacare crashing down. It is not especially credible. Democratic leaders are already responding with snark: Before, Mexico was supposed to pay for the border wall. Now, Trump’s threatening the health care of millions to get taxpayers to cover it.
Click below to read full story:
Sources: Jordan Weissmann (Slate)