(CNN)Close the border! End Obamacare! Cut off Puerto Rico!
They're the catchy, simple declarations that President Donald Trump has built his presidency on, in public remarks and on Twitter. But amid the daily dramatics it's easy to forget that the things he actually does have serious consequences for real people in their real lives.
This week we've heard that Trump is seriously considering closing the border with Mexico to stop asylum seekers. He recently endorsed overturning Obamacare in the federal courts, without having a replacement plan ready to go. He opposes additional disaster relief money for Puerto Rico because he doesn't feel as much gratitude coming from the island as he does from Florida or Texas or Nebraska, which voted for him in 2016.
Closing the border
"Security is more important to me than trade," Trump said during an appearance in the Oval Office Tuesday. "So we're going to have a secure border."
Border security has long been Trump's signature issue. He's fueled fear of immigrants and demonized Mexico as a threat to American jobs. His efforts to build a wall have stalled in Congress. He's tightened regulations, separated children from their families, dispatched the national guard and yet the number of families trying to enter the US has dramatically increased in the past year.
The alarming growth in asylum seekers is clearly a problem that must be addressed. But few think it's likely to be stopped by closing the border, as the President is considering. And closing the border will only move the humanitarian crisis -- whole families with kids penned together and sleeping out in the open as Customs and Border Protection facilities fill up -- south, back into Mexico, where there are even fewer resources to deal with it.
As it stands, many undocumented immigrants are being released into the US. Meanwhile, CBP has said it is at "critical capacity levels cross the southwest border" and "cannot support this dramatic increase in apprehensions of family units and unaccompanied children."
All of those elements swirl together in Trump's head and the idea of closing the border is what emerges.
No matter that the billions in commerce is the lifeblood of whole chunks of the US economy. Carmakers, farmers, beer brewers -- they're all unhappy, as are the thousands of people who cross the US border with Mexico every day to work or attend school.
White House staffers admit they're still unsure whether he'll follow through with threats to close the border or at least dramatically slow traffic in order to stop the flow of families passing through Mexico from Central America. Top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in a CNBC interview that he was exploring options to let truck traffic continue, to avoid hurting the economy.
In a series of three tweets Monday night, Trump dismissed the idea of working with Democrats to pass health care reform, pledging instead to take it back up if he wins in 2020.
Here's what he wrote:
"Everybody agrees that ObamaCare doesn't work. Premiums & deductibles are far too high - Really bad HealthCare! Even the Dems want to replace it, but with Medicare for all, which would cause 180 million Americans to lose their beloved private health insurance. The Republicans..... ...are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare. In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare. Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win..........back the House. It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America. Also, Republicans will always support Pre-Existing Conditions. The Republican Party will be known as the Party of Great HealtCare. Meantime, the USA is doing better than ever & is respected again!"
It's true that Democrats are currently split over whether to push a complete re-make of the health system with a government-run program in the mold of Medicare or to push a public addition to the Affordable Care Act. But no Democrats are pushing the repeal of Obamacare without a path forward.
The true bottom line is that Trump's administration -- over the objections of his attorney general and HHS secretary -- has joined a lawsuit actively seeking to overturn the health care law as soon as possible. But Republicans, after Trump's tweet, aren't actively seeking a way to fill the void that decision could leave. If the courts make a decision, it could leave many many many Americans in the lurch. The move led two Republican state attorneys general -- from Ohio and Montana -- to submit briefs defending the law. They joined health advocacy groups like AARP and others in supporting it.
It's not just the many millions who obtained health insurance through a private market exchange or Medicaid who would be affected. As CNN and others have reported, the Affordable Care Act has completely remade elements of the American health care system that touch everyone.
And many of the people who still don't have health insurance are undocumented immigrants, according to health insurers. But Trump's political strategy to attack the US Census and add a citizenship question many think will drive down response rates, means those people could effectively disappear from the population after next year's decennial census.
Trump's apparent decision to punt until after the election gives Republicans on Capitol Hill some breathing room. It also ensures the issue of health care, which is of the utmost importance to American voters, will drive the conversation heading into 2020.
Aid for Puerto Rico
In another series of tweets, Trump explained his opposition to new disaster funding for Puerto Rico and he criticized Democrats on Capitol Hill, blaming them for opposing a bill from Senate Republicans that would have given new relief money for Midwestern states.
But it was dueling partisan opposition to separate proposals in the Senate that stood in the way of new money being allocated on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Democrats opposed a Senate bill that allocated billions for natural disaster relief, but only $600 million in new food relief funding to help Puerto Rico, which is still dealing with devastation after hurricanes in 2017. Republicans opposed a House bill that gave more money to Puerto Rico. The House bill was passed in January, before flooding hit the Midwest.