President-elect Donald Trump announced at his press conference Wednesday that he would not be divesting from his real-estate empire, waved away concerns about Russian intervention in the American election, volunteered that he’d been offered $2 billion for a new business deal by a representative of a Gulf government, and punished an individual media outlet for a story he objected to, publicly refusing to answer a question from CNN and referring to the outlet as “fake news.”
Coming a day after President Barack Obama’s veiled warning that a Trump administration represented a threat to democracy, the moves did little to assure the American people Trump was committed to the republic’s norms of behavior for a president. It would be hard to conceive of any of the 16 other Republican candidates making a single one of those gestures, let alone all four at the same press conference.
Yet for liberal opponents of Trump ― in a sign of how fluid today’s political parties are ― there were a few things to celebrate.
Trump promised to begin negotiating with drug companies for lower prices, a longtime Democratic priority that the party shunted aside to get Big Pharma’s support for the Affordable Care Act. “We have to get our drug industry coming back,” Trump said. “The other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they are getting away with murder ... We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly. We’re going to start bidding and save billions of dollars over a period of time. And we’re going to do that with a lot of other industries.”
Who could argue with that? (Movement conservatives could, actually, but they’ve been sidelined.)
Trump then doused cold water on the congressional Republican leadership idea of first repealing the health care law and then pondering for several years what will replace it. No, he promised, a replacement would come immediately. There is no replacement, so it throws repeal into disarray. “You’ll be very, very proud as not only the media and reporters, you’ll be very proud of what we put forth having to do with health care,” he promised.
The death of repeal and replace hurts Paul Ryan, so Trump is just fine with that. He dodged on whether a replacement would cover everybody who’s now covered, but he has previously insisted it must. “We’re going to get health care taken care of in this country,” he said. “You have deductibles that are so high that, after people go broke paying their premiums, which are going through the roof, the health care can’t even be used by them because the deductibles are so high. Obamacare is the Democrats’ problem. We are going to take the problem off the shelves for them.”
Lower premiums? Lower deductibles? Better care? Universal coverage? Terrific.
He also pledged to fight with the military-industrial complex over cost overruns, zeroing in on a trillion-dollar jet fighter that has little obvious purpose in today’s world.
And he promised to continue to jawbone corporations that move American jobs overseas. That stops short of being an overarching industrial policy, but at least it stands to raise the political costs for companies looking to outsource work.
Trump implied, though, that if your factory is in a state that didn’t vote for him, well, maybe he won’t get around to tweeting about that one. “When you want to move your plant to Mexico or some other place, and you want to fire all of your workers from Michigan and Ohio and all these places that I won,” he said, “it’s not going to happen that way anymore.”