Trump and the ACA: The Slumlord-in-Chief

It's an old story when it comes to urban real estate. The owner of a building with a bunch of rent-stabilized apartments wants to jack up the cost of the places to meet what has become an exploding market or he wants them gone so he can wreck the place because the real estate parcel is that valuable. But if an elderly couple who has lived there for decades doesn't want to move out or if a family couldn't find anything nearby that was close to the low rent they get to pay by law, what's a landlord to do? It's not a perfect place to live; still, it's where a lot of people are comfortable and happy.

Now, you can start hitting them with harassing lawsuits and threats to evict them for minor or outright made-up lease violations. But if that doesn't work? Then you gotta raise your game. You refuse to make repairs so that leaks and other things get out of control unless the tenants repair them. Hey, you didn't cause that mold to grow up the walls. You do construction in a way that causes noise and dust and shaking walls and floors. You don't do anything to get rid of any bugs or vermin. If you get really desperate, you can open up part of the building to the homeless, allowing them to stay there for free.

You're not kicking them out. You're just making it miserable for them to be there so that they want to get out. You're doing it for the sake of hurting them, and you don't care what happens, even if it costs you money to do it.

We don't really have to imagine the above scenario because that's exactly what Donald Trump did when he was a slumlord in the 1980s at the 100 Central Park South building he had just bought in 1981. Yeah, he wanted to tear it down to build another big, dumb tower, but the place was full with tenants who were quite happy to pay far below-market for their homes. And Trump knew the apartments were occupied, but he wanted them gone. So he made life hell for them.

Trump's approach to the Affordable Care Act is essentially the same thing. He tried to just get rid of it, but the repeal effort failed, so now he's dropping a family of rats into it. His executive order of last week that sets up the cross-state junk insurance plans, called "association plans," and his refusal to pay the cost-sharing reduction money to insurance companies to help keep costs down for low-income Americans are designed to saw a hole in the walls and force everyone there to live with the dust and wreckage.

Between those two moves, the change in the birth control rules, and the cuts to enrollment programs, Trump not only has become the owner of Obamacare, he has become its slumlord. As former adviser and a rotting banana peel with feet Steve Bannon said this weekend at the Values Voters Summit (motto: "Making a mockery of the word 'values' for over 10 years"), Trump is not making the CSR payment because he's "Gonna blow that thing up. Gonna blow those exchanges up, right?" Which may sound like the President of the United States seeking to undermine a law in violation of his oath, but, really, who's gonna impeach him?

Trump sees himself as some kind of hero here, mocking insurance companies for losing stock value, daring Democrats to come work with him. But, like every slumlord, he's just trying to drive people out by making the thing they want so terrible that they run away. Then he can swoop in and have his way with it.

Of course, he's not the only slumlord in the family. Jared Kushner, a creepy guy who likely places his creepy penis inside Trump's daughter repeatedly, has been accused of that kind of behavior in various housing developments and buildings he owns. This includes letting things get so bad at one Maryland complex that, in one unit, "The bedroom ceiling...started leaking one day. Then maggots started coming out of the living room carpet. Then raw sewage started flowing out of the kitchen sink." So between that and the racist policies of his father, the Trump clan is filthy with terrible landlords.

After his hissy fit was over back in the 1980s and over a million bucks in legal bills, Trump didn't get the tenants to all move out, although many did.  The building was never knocked down. The top floor is now the home of one of his awful children, Eric Trump, and his family. Daddy slapped his name on the front, "Trump Parc," and now he advertises it as "one of the most desirable addresses on Central Park South, combining renowned luxury with a warm and unique intimacy that is a rarity in today’s new construction."

In other words, he failed, but he owns it. He couldn't take the wrecking ball to it, but he could make it so he could claim it. And he may declare, as he did today, "Obamacare is finished, it's dead, it's gone..You shouldn't even mention it. It's gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore." We may all call it "Trumpcare," but the Affordable Care Act is still there, with its Medicaid expansion and its laws governing pre-existing conditions and limits on payments and more. He didn't touch those.

The slumlord caused a lot of damage but didn't get what he wanted yet.

(Note: The slumlord theory of Trump's behavior can also cover what's going on in Puerto Rico, although that's seeming more like the Shock Doctrine.)