According to a new survey by Quinnipiac University, most Americans believe that Donald Trump is not fit to be president. It is quite remarkable. But we should ask ourselves how much higher number would be if citizens really knew what was happening.
Because problem with Trump is not only what he does, but also what he does not do. In his mind, everything is him. And while caressing his fragile ego, he neglects basic functions of government, or worse.
Let's talk about two news that apparently have nothing to do with each or: fatal abandonment of Puerto Rico, and continued sabotage of US health care. What se news have is common is that millions of Americans are going to suffer, and hundreds, if not thousands, die because Trump and members of his government are too self-centered to do ir job.
Let's start with disaster in Puerto Rico and neighboring Virgin Islands (also in USA). When Hurricane Maria struck more than a week ago, it left all Puerto Rico powerless, and electricity will take months to recover. The lack of energy can be in itself deadly, but even worse is that, due largely to blackout, much of population still lacks access to potable water. How many people are going to die because hospitals do not work, or because of diseases transmitted by unhealthy water? Nobody knows.
But situation is terrible, and time is not in Puerto Rico's favor: more that happens, worse humanitarian crisis will be. Undoubtedly, it would be hoped that transfer and distribution of aid would become top priority of US government. After all, we talk about lives of three and a half million of our fellow citizens, more than population of Iowa or metropolitan San Diego.
And have we seen that effort of full and unconditional aid that a catastrophe of this kind requires? Do not.
It is true that quantifying federal response is difficult. But none of extraordinary measures that could be expected has materialized.
The deployment of military resources seems to have been slower and slower than in Texas after Harvey or in Florida after Irma, although situation in Puerto Rico is much more urgent. As of Thursday, Trump Government had refused to suspend Jones Act (requiring US flag and crew for cabotage services) for Puerto Rico, even though it had been lifted for Texas and Florida.
Why? According to president, "those who work in transport sector" do not like idea. Moreover, although it has been more than a week since Maria touched down, Trump Government has not yet submitted a request for aid to Congress.
And where is leadership? There are reasons to expect visible attention from president to major national disasters, including visiting affected area as soon as possible (Trump does not plan to visit Puerto Rico until next week). It's not just ater; is a signal of urgent priorities for rest of government, and to some extent for nation at large.
But Trump spent days following mess of Maria tweeting about American football players. When he finally deigned to say something about Puerto Rico, it was to blame territory for its own problems.
The impression he gives to one is that of an enormously egocentric individual, unable to focus on needs of ors, even though that is main part of his work. In addition, re is healing. The revocation of Obamacare has failed again, for simple reason that Bill of Lindsay Graham and Bill Cassidy, like all or Republican proposals, was nothing but miserable trash. But while Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) survives, Trump's government is openly trying to sabotage its operation.
This sabotage is occurring on multiple levels. The government has refused to confirm wher it will pay insurers a key subsidy to cover low-income clients. He has refused to clarify wher he will enforce requirement for healthy people to insure mselves. You have canceled or suspended promotion of system to get more people to sign up for it.
These actions translate directly into a sharp increase in premiums: insurers do not know if y will be compensated for main expenses, and y have plenty of reasons to foresee a smaller and sicker client portfolio than before. And it's too late to reverse damage: As you read this, insurers are already finalizing ir rates for 2018.
Why do trumpists do this? Is it a cynical calculation: get law to fail and n claim that it was already doomed? I doubt it. First, because we are not talking about people known for ir deep strategic calculations. Moreover, law will not actually sink; it will simply become a more focused program on sicker and poorer Americans, and political opposition to revocation will not disappear. And finally, when bad news comes, everyone will know who to blame.
No, sabotage of ACA should not be seen as a strategy, but as a tantrum. Since we can not revoke Obamacare, we will ruin it. It is not a matter of achieving a clear goal, but of saving president's damaged self-esteem.
In short, Trump is truly inept for this or for any or high public office. And damage caused by his ineptitude will not increase.
Paul Krugman is a Nobel laureate in Economics © The New York Times Company, 2017. Translation of News Clips.