The Donald Trump Healthcare Protection Racket

Trump is both so vindictive and ineffectual that he has reverted to the tactics of a small-time organized crime boss.

Donald Trump has always styled himself as something of a cross between a businessman and mafia boss. But running a protection racket from the Oval Office is something else entirely.

It sounds like a ridiculous partisan broadside, but this is deadly serious. Donald Trump is both so vindictive and ineffectual that he has reverted to the tactics of a small-time organized crime boss.

First, Trump campaigned on getting rid of Obamacare and replacing it with something more effective and less costly. But he was too ignorant of healthcare policy to know that there is no such thing, unless the U.S. moves to the sort of single-payer system he had once champion long ago. He expected the GOP Congress to magically whip something up on his desk on his first day in the Oval Office. He didn’t know that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell had no plan for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act—and neither he nor his staff of white nationalists had any clue about healthcare policy, either. So the Republicans tried and failed to pass several wildly incompetent, destructive and unpopular bills just to pass something, but they couldn’t quite get enough senators to walk the plank for them.

So Donald Trump got mad and did what he always does when his subordinates fail to deliver: he lashed out in all directions. Trump doesn’t care about healthcare, but he does care about destroying Barack Obama’s legacy and undoing the accomplishments of an African-American man so obviously his superior in competence and intellect. At first he offered a deal with Democrats. But when that didn’t seem to be going anywhere, he resorted to direct sabotage.

The latest and most cruel act was killing subsidies for lower incomes. The move helps absolutely no one, and hurts everyone. Killing the subsidies will cost taxpayers far more money than it saves. Premiums and deductibles will increase substantially, and the insurance markets will be destabilized, hurting doctors, insurers, and patients alike. The only reason to make this move is spite—and extortion.

No sooner had Trump taken this indefensible step than he tweeted this:

There is no other way to read that statement than as an extortionary protection scheme. “Nice healthcare system you’ve got there.” Smash. “Ooh, that looks bad. Wouldn’t want anything like that to happen again. Stuff’s getting broken all the time.” Smash. “Maybe we should work out a deal, huh?”

“Look at this terrible mess! We’re cleaning it up, but there’s so much broken glass everywhere.” Smash. “You should really take better care of your customers. Let’s talk about how to do that.”

It’s hard to believe that it has come to this, but the president of the United States really is running an organized crime racket on American healthcare, for the pettiest and lowest of reasons.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.