“Republican 2016 frontrunner Donald Trump” is a phrase one would not ever expect to hear, but it’s an unfortunate (yet hilarious) reality in America today. Trump’s presidential campaign thus far has been a gift to comedy writers, bloggers, and anyone with a macabre sense of humor. However, it’s important to remember that there is an almost negligible (yet present) possibility he could become our next President. Among the numerous lies Trump tells every single time he parts his lips is that he genuinely believes that “ultimately, Obamacare…will shut down this country.”
While Trump has relentlessly assaulted the Affordable Care Act, even earning himself a “pants on fire” from Politifact rating recently with his assertion that “the $5 billion website for Obamacare, which never worked. Still doesn’t work” (A.) it works, and B.) It cost nowhere near $5 billion), he wasn’t always such a pandering and delusional mess of a human being.
Back when Trump was not trying to win the hearts and “minds” of American conservatives with his fantastical tales of Mexican rapists being sent to America, he thought universal health care was a great idea — a human right, even. While the Affordable Care Act will never approach universal health care — which is becoming the standard among industrialized nations — it’s a step in the right direction. For this reason, it’s almost baffling that Trump goes out of his way to lie about it.
In 1999, Trump told Larry King that universal health care is an “entitlement” from birth — and that he would pay for it through higher corporate taxes:
Speaking with CNN host Larry King in 1999 when he was flirting with a run for president on the Reform Party ticket, Trump said he was “quite liberal” when it came to health care. “I said I’m conservative, generally speaking, I’m conservative, and even very conservative,” Trump told King in response to a question about a “patients’ bill of rights.” “But I’m quite liberal and getting much more liberal on health care and other things. I really say: What’s the purpose of a country if you’re not going to have defensive and health care?’ Trump added [that he] believed in “universal health care.”
“If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over. I mean, it’s no good. So I’m very liberal when it comes to health care,” he said. “I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better.” Asked if he thought it was an entitlement, Trump affirmed he did indeed believe it was one from birth. “I think it is. It’s an entitlement to this country, and too bad the world can’t be, you know, in this country. But the fact is, it’s an entitlement to this country if we’re going to have a great country.”
Speaking with The Advocate that year, Trump said he’d fund his universal health care plan with an increase in corporate taxes. “I would put forward a comprehensive health care program and fund it with an increase in corporate taxes,” Trump said.
Trump wrote in his in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, that “we need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.”
While Obamacare is not in any sense universal health care, it’s shocking that Trump would develop such a militaristic attitude toward the ACA, which he calls a “total catastrophe.” “Everything about Obamacare is a lie, a filthy lie,” Trump said in January. “People that had plans that they loved, that they really loved, they are not going to have those plans anymore. It’s a real disaster. So someone has got to repeal Obamacare and do it fast.”
It’s interesting to see how Trump’s views have evolved over the years, seemingly for no better reason than to impress his friends.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.