President Trump tried to pivot away from weeks of coverage of his impeachment Thursday afternoon by scaring senior citizens about what Democrats might do to their Medicare.
“Almost every major Democrat in Washington has backed a major government takeover that would totally obliterate Medicare,” Trump claimed during a speech to senior citizens in Florida. “They want to raid Medicare to fund a thing called socialism.”
The event was held at The Villages, a massive retirement community that’s a trove of aging Republicans in Florida, one of the key 2020 swing states. The audience was one of the reddest, and bluest-haired, he could find. And while it was ostensibly an official event about policy, Trump quickly turned it into a campaign rally with a lengthy harangue about his 2020 foes as the crowd chanted “four more years.”
“Today, standing in solidarity with our nation’s seniors I declare that America will never be a socialist country,” Trump bellowed during an hour-plus speech, just hours after he implored communist China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son as he departed the White House.
The president slammed Medicare for All, the plan backed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), claiming its implementation would somehow damage current Medicare. And he insisted that even Democrats whose healthcare plans are much more modest, like former Biden’s plan to create a “government option” to compete with private healthcare plans, was just as socialist.
“The fake moderates on the left are telling the same lies that they’re telling under the last administration,” he said, attacking Obamacare.
Most of the taxpayer-funded event served as a rallying cry for Trump as he sought to pivot from two weeks of brutal news coverage, though he couldn’t resist a few comments about the threat facing his presidency.
“That’s why they do the impeachment crap — because they know they can’t defeat us fairly.”
“That’s why they do the impeachment crap — because they know they can’t defeat us fairly,” he said of Democrats at one point after attacking his 2020 foes by name.
And during an unrelated tangent about healthcare, Trump somehow suggested the pharmaceutical industry was behind impeachment.
“I wouldn't be surprised if the hoax didn't come a little bit from some of the people that we’re taking on,” he said. “I wouldn't be surprised if it was from some of these industries like pharmaceuticals that we take on.”
The executive order Trump signed onstage directs changes to rules covering Medicare Advantage, the private Medicare supplement plans used by about one third of seniors, to allow it to cover more types of care.
Trump’s actual 2020 budget, however, proposed cuts of $575 billion from the current Medicare program over ten years.
Likewise, Trump went on an extended tangent promising to lower prescription drug prices by allowing their reimportation from other countries — even though just a day earlier he’d sworn not to work with House Democrats to pass the bipartisan bill until they drop impeachment.
Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center in The Villages on October 03, 2019 in The Villages, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)