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How Trump's tweets hide bad policy

E.J. Dionne Jr. on

WASHINGTON -- This week, courtesy of Twitter, we were offered a glimpse of why more Americans chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump as the appropriate person to be president of the United States.

On Monday night, Clinton (whose margin, by the way, was 2.9 million votes) tweeted up a storm. "This hasn't gotten enough attn," she wrote in her opener. "For the first time, Congress missed the deadline to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program."

It was the first of seven tweets in which she expressed a proper outrage over the failure of the House and Senate to renew a valuable piece of the government's health care safety net that provides insurance to some 9 million Americans under the age of 18.

The next morning, Trump issued a tweet of his own: "The Failing @nytimes set Liddle' Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I am dealing with!"

Quite a contrast, don't you think? On the one side is Clinton using the attention she commands on behalf of a group that enjoys little political influence or lobbying power. On the other is a self-involved bully who spends much of his time belittling those who dare oppose him. Clinton was fighting for children and teenagers. Trump was acting like one.

It's true that about two hours before he sent out his missive attacking the Tennessee Republican who fears Trump might start World War III, the petulant president did post a tweet on health care: "Since Congress can't get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people -- FAST."

Naturally, Trump shucked off responsibility for not delivering on his promise to repeal Obamacare and replace it with "something great." It's all Congress' fault.

As to substance, he was referring to an executive order that aides say he'll issue this week to undo some of the Affordable Care Act's regulations and permit the sale of cheap, skimpy, short-term insurance plans likely to appeal most to the healthiest people.

Trump's move would undercut existing patient protections and likely further destabilize health care markets he has already thrown into chaos with his stealthy efforts to sabotage Obamacare.

Earlier this week, The New York Times' Robert Pear reported the administration's 41 percent reduction in funds for the program that helps consumers pick plans through the ACA. The new Obamacare enrollment period begins on Nov. 1, and as Pear wrote, "The cuts come at a time of turmoil in insurance markets, when more consumers than ever may need help navigating the health care system."

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