Donald Trump has always said he would repeal, or reform, the Affordable Care Act – generally known as Obamacare. This Bill gave millions of previously uninsured and uninsurable Americans access to healthcare. Trump it seems is happy to move backwards towards a more ruthless system where the insurance companies can discriminate at will against people with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, leaving millions with no access to healthcare when they need it. Aren’t these the very people Trump refers to when he speaks of the forgotten Americans? The President speaks of putting America first always, but perhaps that doesn’t mean putting some Americans first anytime. Last night he signed an order that signals his intent to repeal Obamacare with due haste and issued an order that all federal agencies are not required to introduce in the meantime any law resulting from Obamacare if that law imposes any economic cost. This basically stalls Obamacare’s continuing implementation until he can bring a Bill before Congress to repeal it completely. This is truly a stunning blow to the millions of Americans who are dependent on the Affordable Care Act and, despite Trump’s claims of working for the average, ordinary American and not for the establishment, this move clearly demonstrates that Trump is working for the establishment – in this case the insurance industry lobby and those Americans invested financially in it. The furore that followed President Obama throughout his eight years over his Affordable Care Act was quite astonishing. Obamacare was frequently portrayed as dangerous socialism and un-American – as if providing healthcare for those in need is either un-American or socialism. If you’re a Republican, apparently it is. Spare a thought today for the millions of Americans using Obamacare who will be wondering how much longer they’ll be able to go to their doctor or to get their prescriptions before they get a call from their insurance company telling them they are no longer covered. Truly shocking for a country that Trump aspires to be the greatest in the world. Truly and unbelievably obnoxious behaviour from a billionaire who undoubtedly has never had to worry about health insurance for himself or his family.
Link: The Guardian article
Concern in the UK at talk of America First and the chances of a trade deal after Brexit
There is some concern in the UK today after President Trump’s inaugural speech yesterday. In it he used the phrase America First and vowed that the government would “follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American.” This has left many here in the UK wondering where this leaves the prospects of a decent trade deal with the United States now that Britain is about to negotiate to leave the European Union. Both Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May have previously said they would get a trade deal between the two countries, but Trump’s nationalistic mutterings yesterday put that into doubt. Nevertheless, Theresa May was “confident we can look at areas even in advance of being able to sign a formal trade deal. Perhaps we could look to barriers to trade at the moment and remove some of those barriers to open up that new trade relationship.” That doesn’t sound so confident to me. The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson – yes, Boris Johnson is our Foreign Secretary, the equivalent of an American Secretary of State – was more robustly confident: “It’s got to work for the UK as well. I think that the new president has made it very clear that he wants to put Britain at the front of the line for a new trade deal and obviously that’s extremely exciting and important,” Despite the promises and the talk from politicians, I find it difficult to see how a US administration under Donald Trump is going to be able to offer a favourable trade deal with the UK in light of Trump’s America First philosophy.
The Prime Minister is hoping to meet with the new President as early as next week. She will obviously be talking about the trade deal but will also have concerns over a Trump America’s attitude towards NATO and the European Union for security at a time when Russia is showing increasing signs of aggression and following Trump’s ambivalence to the relevance of NATO and America’s financial commitment to the defence organisation. He has complained that America has “subsidised the armies of other countries [and] defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.” Comparing defending European nations’ borders from Russian aggression is hardly the same as defending America’s borders with Canada and Mexico from immigrants. I have concerns that Trump’s apparent willingness to give Putin an easy ride – or at least a fresh start – could only encourage Putin to become more aggressive. The strength of NATO since World War Two has lain in the belief that an attack on one NATO nation is an attack on the United States. If Trump begins to move away from this idea and even suggest that the United States would not be obligated to protect a NATO country, then the peace that has ensued in much of Europe for the last seventy years will be under threat. Successive US Presidents have seen that a strong and peaceful Europe is a good thing for Europe, the United States and the world. President Truman saw this at the end of World War Two, after some reluctance, and set about funding the rebuilding of a devastated western Europe. His reasoning was that a strong western Europe was the best defence against a resurgent Russia.
Trump attends inaugural balls and dances the first dance with his wife Melania
President Trump and Melania Trump had the first dance at one of the inaugural balls, dancing to “My Way,” a song popularised by Frank Sinatra. The two seemed happy enough, but Trump seemed more interested in watching the crowd and fist-pumping the air and acknowledging people in the audience instead of just enjoying the moment with his wife. Half way through the dance they were joined on stage by the Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife and by Trump’s children and their partners who joined in with the dance. Dancing to “My Way” had caused some controversy with Frank Sinatra’s daughter Nancy Sinatra suggesting that her father would not have supported Donald Trump.