According to Michael Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury, Donald Trump once floated the idea of Medicare for all to his White House aides. Hey, what’s all that about??
Here’s the full excerpt in question (emphasis mine):
All things considered, he probably preferred the notion of more people having health insurance than fewer people having it. He was even, when push came to shove, rather more for Obamacare than for repealing Obamacare. As well, he had made a set of rash Obama-like promises, going so far as to say that under a forthcoming Trumpcare plan (he had to be strongly discouraged from using this kind of rebranding—political wise men told him that this was one instance where he might not want to claim ownership with his name), no one would lose their health insurance, and that preexisting conditions would continue to be covered. In fact, he probably favored government-funded health care more than any other Republican. “Why can’t Medicare simply cover everybody?” he had impatiently wondered aloud during one discussion with aides, all of whom were careful not to react to this heresy.
According to Wolff, it was Steve Bannon and Paul Ryan who guided the president away from such an earth-shattering idea as more people having health care. It’s worth noting that any anecdote from Wolff’s book should be read with a healthy serving of salt. But his story rings true because Trump has expressed support for the idea of Medicare for all before.
In Trump’s 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Trump (or his ghostwriters) wrote in favor of universal health care (emphasis added):
“I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one,” Trump wrote. “We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by health care expenses. We must not allow citizens with medical problems to go untreated because of financial problems or red tape… Working out detailed plans will take time. But the goal should be clear: Our people are our greatest asset. We must take care of our own. We must have universal health care.”
There’s a lesson to be learned here. For one—as we’ve long suspected—Trump is not a cunning policy mind. He’s a Fox News grandpa who only cares about being perceived as popular, and any hard-and-fast political opinions he may have espoused in the past have been ground into mush over the years. He is malleable and quite likely infirm, making him the perfect mark for people like Ryan and his pals at the Heritage Foundation to mold like putty in their greedy hands. Trump doesn’t have any policy objectives apart from what the sycophants around him tell him he should be doing. (One likely exception being a dedication to further enriching his own family.)
Trump has also never been constrained by political ideology—or any organized thought structure, for that matter—and for that reason, he sometimes unwittingly stumbles upon good ideas, like a perpetually broken clock that just so happens to rule the free world.