Promises Promises
September 25, 2020

"President Trump capped his fruitless four-year journey to abolish and replace the Affordable Care Act by signing an executive order Thursday that aims to enshrine the law's most popular feature," protections for people with pre-existing conditions, while "avoiding the thorny details of how to ensure such protections without either leaving the ACA, or ObamaCare, in place or crafting new comprehensive legislation," The Washington Post reports.

Stat News describes Trump's affirmation of pre-existing conditions protections as "likely empty rhetoric" and one of several "simple, superficial, and non-binding executive orders" that will neither "improve the quality of Americans' health care or lower its cost."

Trump was more bullish in what was billed as a health-care policy speech in North Carolina. "The historic action I'm taking today includes the first-ever executive order to affirm it is the official policy of the United States government to protect patients with pre-existing conditions," he said. His administration is backing a lawsuit before the Supreme Court that could strike down those protections, already enshrined in the sweeping law Democrats passed a decade ago, but Trump said he's "putting it down in a stamp, because our opponents, the Democrats, like to constantly talk about it."

Thursday's actions were "a tacit admission that Trump had failed to keep his 2016 promise to replace his predecessor's signature achievement with a conservative alternative," the Post reports. But that failure "has not stopped Trump from repeatedly promising a soon-to-come health-care plan in a repetitive cycle of boastful pledges and missed deadlines that intensified in recent weeks ahead of the November election."

Trump also "promised millions of older Americans would receive $200 toward the cost of prescription drugs and signed executive orders he said would somehow prevent unexpected medical bills," the Post reports. The $200 coupons, which Trump said will arrive for 33 million Medicare beneficiaries "in the coming weeks," are pretty clearly "a political ploy to curry favor with seniors who view drug prices as a priority," Stat News says. And it's not clear how or if the White House can legally pay the $6.6 billion price tag, though the administration pointed to savings from a regulation that hasn't yet been implemented.

You can read more about the $200 gift cards, Trump's other largely symbolic moves on health care, and the conference call in which Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Medicare administrator Seema Verma struggled to portray them as "historic" at Stat News. Peter Weber

April 10, 2020

A federal disaster loan program offering up to $2 million in relief is now capping out at $15,000 — and is leaving some borrowers wondering if they'll even get that.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, an offshoot of the Small Business Administration's emergency funds system, has faced an unprecedented number of requests amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and is having trouble keeping up and following through with promised loan amounts, The New York Times reports.

Several applicants reportedly said SBA representatives told them funding for the program was running out. Deb Wood-Schade, a chiropractic wellness business owner, told the Times she had been approved for a nearly $25,000 loan, but was given documents on Wednesday telling her the loan had been cut to less than a third of that amount.

As part of the $2 trillion relief bill signed by President Trump last month, applicants to the program were also supposed to be made eligible for a $10,000 advance in the form of a grant that would not have to be repaid, and the money was reportedly supposed to be distributed within three days of applying. According to the Times, that money has yet to be dispensed.

"I'm afraid I won't see a penny," Virginia Warnken Kelsey, an opera singer who applied on March 29, told the Times.

The sudden onslaught of requests caused by the virus has handed the SBA a "historic influx of loan applications," The Washington Post reports, leading to a major applicant backlog. The $10 billion in federal funding provided by the CARES act would cover the $10,000 advances of around one million businesses. But in three days, the program reportedly received more than three million applicants.

Lawmakers in Washington are still negotiating over a bill that would inject more money to small businesses, with Democrats blocking the latest attempt by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and demanding double the amount. Marianne Dodson

January 29, 2019

Former White House staffer Cliff Sims has written a tell-all book about his time working for President Trump. Unsurprisingly, Trump insulted Sims in a tweet, and his campaign director is now threatening to sue Sims for allegedly violating a nondisclosure agreement.

If history is any indication, that's not going to happen. Here are 24 lawsuits Trump threatened that we still have yet to see.

1. Way back in 2011, Trump tossed around the idea of suing MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell.

2. Trump, freshly arrived on the campaign trail, said he'd sue Univision for "hundreds of millions of dollars" in June 2015.

3-4. A campaigning Trump said he'd sue ex-Ohio Gov. John Kasich for negative campaign ads and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for "not being a natural-born citizen."

3-20. In October 2016, Trump railed against his sexual assault accusers, saying these "liars will be sued after the election is over." NPR counts 18 of them.

21-23. Like Sims, Michael Wolff similarly wrote an exposé of the Trump administration. Trump sent a cease and desist letter to the Fire & Fury author, his publisher, and former adviser Stephen Bannon.

24. The Democratic National Committee sued the Trump campaign. Trump said "we will now counter" in April 2018.

Honorable mention: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said Trump told her to "sue the E.U." last July.

Even if Trump does follow through for once and sue Sims for what he calls "made-up stories and fiction," NBC News' Jonathan Allen has a good point. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 23, 2018

On Monday, President Trump vaguely elaborated on a 10 percent tax cut for middle-income earners that nobody else seems to know anything about. Trump's proposal for a "major tax cut" before the Nov. 6 election or soon after is "mystifying White House officials, congressional leaders, and tax wonks around town who mostly have no idea what he's talking about," Politico reports.

At a rally in Houston on Monday evening, Trump said he has been working on the proposal with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) for several months, and he's said House Speaker Paul Ryan's office was involved, too. But Ryan and Brady "appeared caught off guard again by Trump's comments," and their offices referred questions back to the White House, The Washington Post reports.

Congress is on break until after the election, "legislation enacting such a cut has not been planned on Capitol Hill, and congressional Republicans were privately skeptical that a vote could happen during the post-election lame duck session," the Post reports. "There are no current plans in Congress for any kind of large new tax cut for the middle class," Politico adds, and a 10 percent cut, as Trump is talking about, would cost about $2 trillion over 10 years, according to Jason Furman, chairman of former President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

"The GOP is already scrambling to avoid criticism for the ballooning debt and deficit under Trump's watch," and Republican candidates scrapped plans to run on the $1.5 trillion tax cut they already passed months ago, Politico says. "The specifics may not matter, though, in the days before an election — especially as the media echoes his message, often uncritically." And Republicans seem fine with that. "It's not a serious proposal," one well-connected conservative lobbyist tells Politico. "Nobody is taking it seriously, but we'd rather have him talking about tax cuts than some of the crazy stuff he usually talks about." Peter Weber

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