President Donald Trump’s decision to move full-steam ahead with a plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), has many GOP consultants fearful that such an attack on programs popular with the majority of Americans may lead to a crushing election defeat in 2020, the Washington Post reports.
In essence, top GOP strategists warn that Trump’s move regarding Obamacare may wind up giving the appearance that the party only cares about the wealthy:
“A growing number of Republicans fear that it risks being tagged as the party of the 1 percent instead — handing Democrats a potent political message as the GOP pushes to gut former president Barack Obama’s health-care law and other popular federal programs, including those that help the poor and people with disabilities.
“A spate of policy moves in recent weeks by Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials has driven the party’s agenda hard to the right, giving new fodder to Democratic presidential candidates eager to shift the national debate to such issues as health care and jobs ahead of the 2020 election.”
The administration’s latest budget proposal is also of concern to GOP strategists because it:
“Includes massive rollbacks of programs including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance, as well as cuts to the Special Olympics, Meals on Wheels, and programs related to autism and other developmental disabilities.”
Cuts to such popular programs could blunt Trump’s populist appeal among middle-class voters, especially in key states such as Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, three states that helped the president win an electoral college victory in 2016.
Republican strategist Mike Murphy, who has been critical of Trump, noted:
“We’re diving into a wood chipper. I guess that’s the plan — being on the wrong side of issues, on top of the head winds we’re facing, with the House Freedom Caucus and Trump’s ego providing our political compass.”
The showdown this week over defunding the Special Olympics is emblematic of the White House’s “let them eat cake” priorities when it comes to middle-class voters:
“Republicans’ difficult balancing act on health care and other social programs was epitomized by congressional testimony this week from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who forcefully defended her agency’s request to cut billions from the budget. Democrats attacked the plan as heartless and damaging to students who need the most help — particularly a proposal to eliminate $17.6 million in funding for the Special Olympics, which gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to compete in athletics on a global stage.”
Trump later said the Special Olympics would be fully funded, but not until a national outcry forced his hand. The very fact that such a budget cut ever made it into the final budget request suggests the administration’s priorities and messaging are in need of serious reconsideration if the GOP is to have any chance in 2020.
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