In a final push to rally support before the midterm elections, US President Donald Trump has promised to enact a middle-class tax cut, slash drug prices and protect medical coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. As he's reneged on similar pledges in the past, voters would be fools to believe him.
At a recent rally, Trump said he would try to pass a “major tax cut for middle-income people” before the midterms. Given Congress won't be seated until after the elections, such a move is implausible. Moreover, Republicans have already passed a tax cut that disproportionately helped millionaires and billionaires. They also plan to pass an expanded bill after the midterms that would increase the after-tax income of the bottom 60% of income earners by 1.1%, but the pay packets of the wealthiest 1% by 2%. Given legislators' priorities so far and sudden concern about the federal deficit, a middle-class tax cut seems out of the question.
Meaningful measures to lower prescription-drug prices also seem unlikely. The president recently floated a plan to reduce them by benchmarking them against their prices in other developed countries. He's previously said “One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs” and accused pharmaceutical companies of “getting away with murder”. Yet drug prices have continued to rise during his presidency, and Republicans will be reluctant to anger PhRMA, a drug industry body that spent over $25 million lobbying Congress in 2017.
Similarly, Trump has tweeted that “Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not! Vote Republican.” He also ran on “[health] insurance for everybody” in 2016. Both are deeply disingenuous claims, given Republicans have repeatedly tried to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and eliminate its protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. Indeed, an independent review found that more than 6 million Americans with pre-existing conditions would be worse off if the Republicans’ healthcare bill passes the House.
Voters should know better than to trust Trump. His commitment to ‘drain the swamp’- excise corruption and cronyism from Washington - was a key selling point of his presidential campaign. Yet his administration has been mired in scandals involving top cabinet officials, suggesting a culture of avarice and profligacy. For example, Scott Pruitt struck a sweetheart deal with an energy lobbyist's wife to rent a condo for $50 a night, Tom Price spent over a million dollars in taxpayer funds on private-jet travel, and Wilbur Ross holds stakes in several companies affected by his decisions. Moreover, Trump’s hotels and resorts continue to take money from foreign governments, and he's refused to detail his worldwide business interests, which could feed into his decisions.
The president has delivered on some promises such as accelerating economic growth and appointing conservative Supreme Court judges, but he’s broken many others. Voters should think twice about trusting him to fulfil his latest round of pledges. Trump is blasting hot air to sway voters; as the midterm results will determine whether Democrats can hold him and his cronies to account and push back on his dangerous rhetoric and damaging policies, it's vital for them to see through the smoke.