Please Don’t Come Back to Philly, President Trump

Not even two weeks into his presidency, Donald Trump has done real damage. We beg him: Please stay out of Philly.

Trump protesters

Protesters at Thomas Paine Plaza last week | Photo: Dan McQuade

A former Pizza Hut spokesman who now holds the position of president of the United States came to Philadelphia last week, and Philadelphians acted accordingly.

Massive protests erupted in the city even before Donald Trump’s arrival at the Loews Hotel. There was an LGBT dance party on Wednesday night. On Thursday, the day Trump was actually briefly in Philadelphia, protesters flooded Center City streets. Trump then lied about Philadelphia and was trashed by the mayor and protesters, who told him “we hate you” and said he should “go home.” In all, thousands turned out to protest the groper-in-chief’s policies.

The GOP was so spooked by Philadelphia’s protesters that attendees apparently wouldn’t even walk through 30th Street Station to get on a train back to D.C. after the “retreat” in Philly.

There’s one thread running through all of Trump’s actions so far that I think is instrumental in understanding why people are protesting him across the country: He does not seem to care about the fallout of anything he does. A look at the Affordable Care Act is instructive.

The law cut America’s uninsured rate to an all-time low, but Trump issued an executive order on Inauguration Day that allows federal agencies to ignore any Obamacare regulation that would “would impose a fiscal burden.” If the Affordable Care Act is in fact a mess and needs to be repealed, care should be taken in doing so — there ought to be discussion of a bridge to get people from Obamacare to whatever Republicans come up with as a replacement.

But the executive order was clearly about money, not people. Its language “means the focus is not on providing healthcare to the last 10 percent of Americans without any insurance, but instead on unleashing economic forces that will make the Affordable Care Act’s very Republican and market-oriented basis fail,” wrote David Cay Johnston, who covered Trump’s Atlantic City casinos for the Inquirer. “This is political chutzpah. … For example, an existing Obamacare policy that saves lives, restores people so they can return to work or lengthens the quality of life can also be seen, when examined as an economic snapshot, as a cost or a regulatory burden to be shed immediately.”

The White House went even further last week, directing federal agencies to stop running ads promoting signups for Affordable Care Act coverage. The ads are crucial to the ACA because so many people seem to need a last-minute nudge to sign up. Canceling the ads isn’t even a cost-saving measure; officials told Politico the money for the ads had already been paid, and the country wouldn’t be getting a refund.

The idea, then, is to undercut Obamacare so fewer people sign up than expected. Again, Trump’s White House is focused on politics and money rather than people. “This is pure sabotage motivated solely to depress enrollment and make the insurance market worse,” tweeted Huffington Post senior reporter Jeffrey Young, who has long covered the health care market. “It also disadvantages real people.”

And the Republican Party does not seem so concerned with what comes after Obamacare. In a hearing last week, Sen. Pat Toomey was content with an answer from Tom Price, Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, that Obamacare alternatives merely exist — with no details. Again: It is all about saving money, and not about getting people quality health care.

Perhaps if there were a plan to replace Obamacare, it would be OK that there’s no bridge between the ACA and Trumpcare. But a secret recording provided to the Washington Post showed that Republican senators don’t have a coherent plan for a replacement. Does Trump even care what happens to people?

Probably not. Trump’s executive order restricting immigration was not carried out with any thought as to how it would actually affect people. Career Homeland Security staff weren’t allowed to see the executive order until the day it was signed, and the Justice and Homeland Security departments weren’t allowed to provide guidance beforehand.

It caused massive chaos. Refugees and green card and visa holders were detained at airports. A Syrian family of six, with a visa for legal travel to the U.S., was sent back to Qatar from PHL airport. One of the first people detained was an Iraqi interpreter who worked with the U.S. military for decades. CNN reports that if “career officials had known more about the executive order earlier, some of the confusion could have been avoided and a better plan could be in place.” But Trump’s response was: “It’s working out very nicely.” Protests sprouted up at PHL and other airports this weekend as well.

This administration has already shown it has no care for people affected by its haphazard policies. And Philadelphia has already shown that it won’t stand for it. Thus I have one suggestion for the former pizza pitchman who’s so fond of telling people where they can’t go: Please don’t ever come back to Philadelphia. We will only embarrass you more.