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It’s called ‘leverage’ and last weekend President Trump tried it by tweeting: “If a new healthcare bill is not approved quickly BAILOUTS for insurance companies and BAILOUTS for members of Congress will end very soon!”

The President was saying to the insurance lobby, Get onboard – or I’ll end $7 billion a year in subsidies government pays insurance companies. And he was saying to Congress, Start helping – or I’ll end the subsidies you voted yourself to lower your health insurance costs.

Now you might ask, If those subsidies are bad why not just do away with them, period? Why say, ‘I’ll keep on paying you the money – if we can make a deal?’ It’s a fair question. But this is politics where devilment and deal making walk hand-in-hand.  

And as far as Congress goes the deal might work: Congress might want to keep its subsidies. More to the point, if Congress balks ending subsidies for Washington politicians would be wildly popular.

But the Health Insurance Companies are a different problem. Because the government pays them subsidies to reduce the cost of health insurance for low income people.

What happens if the President ends them? Health insurance companies will increase the cost of insurance and probably not just for low income people – for everyone. And the President gets the blame.

It’s an odd sort of deal making: Trump threatens. But, if Trump acts on his threat, Trump gets hurt. But that’s how devilment works: It whispers, Let’s bite your enemy – then it bites you too.  

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