WASHINGTON — As the Senate barrels toward a vote on the healthcare bill that caps per-person Medicaid funding and undoes the expansion of the program under Obama, opponents of the measure point to Trump’s many campaign 2016 statements promising to protect Medicaid.
“I am going to save Medicare and Medicaid,” Donald Trump tweeted in 2015. “The Republicans who want to cut SS & Medicaid are wrong,” he tweeted that July. “Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it,” he told campaign supporters in 2015. It was a position he’d held from the earliest days of his candidacy — and before. “I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid,” he said in May 2015, before formally declaring his presidential bid.
In supporting a bill that cuts Medicaid after promising not to, Trump has made the most significant domestic policy about-face of his young presidency — and what is one of the biggest flip-flops by a Republican president since George H.W. Bush signed a tax increase after pledging, “Read my lips: no new taxes” during the Republican National Convention in 1988.
After Bush in 1990 as part of a budget compromise, he saw his popularity plummet more than 20 percentage points. Support for his presidency rebounded during the Gulf War but then sank again, and Democrats hammered him over his “read my lips” promise during the 1992 campaign as part of building a negative portrait of his political character.
But as much as Democrats plan to run against the BCRA’s Medicaid cuts in 2017 and 2018, should they be unable to block the bill this summer, the politics of the situation are sufficiently different that it’s unlikely Trump’s broken promises will hurt him in precisely the same way Bush’s did. And that’s because Bush went against his party in raising taxes, spurring outrage among conservatives — especially an ambitious House member from…