Trump clearly hasn't taken his failure on health care very well and he demonstrated this by furiously tweeting dozens of times over the weekend while he was both on and off the golf course.
Among other things, Trump threatened to punish sick people by ending CSR payments (cost-sharing subsidies for insurers) which would cause the market to collapse.
But the goal is not to punish sick people according to White House budget director Mick Mulvaney. He says the goal is to punish insurers and Congress.
Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” about Trump’s threat on Saturday to end subsidies that affect low-income individuals, Mulvaney said he “talked to the President at length about that exact issue yesterday.”
“I think his attitude is this, and his attitude is pretty simple,” Mulvaney said. “What he’s saying is, look, if Obamacare is hurting people — and it is — then why shouldn’t it hurt insurance companies and more importantly perhaps for this discussion, members of Congress?”
For those who need a refresher: the cost-sharing subsidies redistribute funds from one insurer to another if one is covering significantly more sick people than the other. This stabilizes premiums for everyone across multiple insurers so that one insurer is not forced to charge significantly more just because they're covering more sick people.
It would be no skin off the backs of insurers and members of Congress if CSR payments were cut off tomorrow. Members of Congress may feel additional political pressure from their constituents who suffer as a result, but they will personally be fine.
Insurers, meanwhile, could respond by dumping markets that depend heavily on CSR payments. Insurers would probably prefer if that didn't happen, and I'm sure they would prefer to continue receiving the subsidies, but it's not as if they will "suffer" for it.
The only people who would suffer as a result are patients who may lose their insurance entirely or face significantly higher premiums.
Congress can (and should) put an end to Trump's constant threats to throw individual markets into chaos by taking the matter out of the executive branch's hands by appropriating funds for the CSR payments.
It's ironic that Republicans may be forced to take more action to curtail executive power under Trump than they did under President Obama. They spent 8 years arguing that President Obama was lawless dictator, but Trump is the man they may be forced to confront. It would also be extremely ironic if they appropriate the cost-sharing subsidies because a House Republican lawsuit against the subsidies is still pending in court.