President Donald Trump ran for office as a heterodox conservative, mixing far-right nationalism with promises to protect the safety net for the poor and middle class. But his first 50 days show glimpses of a fairly traditional conservative policy, which often puts the interests of the rich over the needs of the poor and middle class.
Before signing any major pieces of legislation, Trump has put his name to several executive orders that have frozen or reversed regulations on large banks and energy companies. One of his first executive orders was an “opening salvo” against Dodd-Frank’s financial reform, which he signed because, in his words, his investor friends “with nice businesses” had trouble getting loans. Another executive order stalled the so-called “fiduciary rule” that requires financial advisers to act in their clients’ best interest when providing advice on retirement planning. That $1-trillion infrastructure bill that was going to rebuild the rust belt long overlooked by coastal elites? It’s becoming a more modest public-private partnership, which infrastructure experts say will pay construction companies to make repairs they were already going to fund. Notably, his executive orders banning immigration from a handful of majority-Muslim countries do not directly impact the bottom line of most companies.
Nothing encapsulates the metamorphosis from Trumpian populism to traditional plutocracy quite like the Trump-approved proposal to replace Obamacare. The health care bill doesn’t just step back from Trump’s campaign promises to protect Medicaid and cover all Americans. It does an ostentatious reverse-triple backflip away from those promises, in a manner that seems almost deliberately designed to call attention to their hollowness. Trump once pledged “insurance for everybody,” but this plan will result in 24 million fewer people covered by insurance, perhaps the largest single social-welfare cut in American history. The president promised to “save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without cuts,” but the plan cuts $880 billion from Medicaid over the next 10 years. For good measure, the bill cuts taxes by $600 billion, and the savings go disproportionately to the top 1 percent.