With Government Shutdown Looming, Trump Uses Healthcare As Bargaining Chip to Fund Border Wall

Lead Photo: Photo by Itzel Alejandra Martinez for Remezcla
Photo by Itzel Alejandra Martinez for Remezcla
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With an April 28 deadline to pass a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, President Donald Trump remains adamant that the measure include funding for a border wall. Since the day he announced his presidency, Trump has vowed to divide Mexico and the United States with a wall. As recently as Sunday, Trump refused to tell the Associated Press if he’d hold off from signing if his demands weren’t met. Meanwhile, his team aggressively pushes to fund the wall – even if it means holding low-income communities’ healthcare hostage.

On Friday, Trump’s budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, said that in exchange for funding the border wall, the administration would offer money that’d make health insurance cheaper for low-income populations. “We’d offer them $1 of CSR payments for $1 of wall payments,” he said during a Bloomberg Live interview. “Right now, that’s the offer that we’ve given to our Democratic colleagues.” Despite opposition and accusations about holding low-income communities hostage, Mulvaney doubled down over the weekend in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

“Actually, what I would say is [Democrats are] holding hostage national security,” Mulvaney said. “Again, something they supported in the recent past when President Obama was in the Senate… The Democrats will oppose everything that this president wants to do, which is stunning to us, especially when we are offering them something they want in return.”

As Wallace continued to ask Mulvaney if the Trump Administration’s willing to cut off health care funding that would benefit the most disenfranchised, the budget chief kept returning to the topic of national security. However, a wall won’t do much to stop drug trafficking – one of the issues Trump says the wall will solve.

“A wall alone cannot stop the flow of drugs into the United States,” Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, told Vox. “If we’re talking about a broader increase in border security, there could be some – probably minor – implications for the overall numbers of drugs being trafficked. But history shows us that border enforcement has been much more effective at changing the when and where of drugs being brought into the United States rather than the overall amount of drugs being brought into the United States.”

If Trump really wants a stronger border – which requires Mexico’s cooperation – he shouldn’t alienate them. But his team is actively using the health of low-income communities as a bargaining chip. The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect – it remains inaccessible to many in the United States, especially Latinos – but this could put the health of many at risk because of politics.

As this plays out, a group of 40 Democrats and Republicans call to pass a spending bill without a border wall provision so that both sides can find a solution before government funding dries up at the end of this week.