Advertisement

Edelman: Flip-flopping makes it tough to tell where Trump stands

Donald Trump's campaign strategy must be to flood us with so much nonsense that you cannot deal with any of it — there's always something else just around the bend. What is notably absent from the Trump campaign is a coherent message about anything at all. He's flip-flopped on pretty much every issue he has spoken on: birtherism, immigration, health care, women's health, taxes, releasing his own medical reports. You just can't tell where he is, what he stands for, or what he believes in, except for himself.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has a long and consistent track record on policy. Let's look at health care, for example. In 1993, she headed a task force to modernize and extend health care coverage. It is noteworthy that at that time, insurance companies put together a fact-free attack on the plan — and her. Clinton was instrumental in creating SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, that helps state governments fund health care for low-income families. She has stood up for patients and against companies like EpiPen manufacturer Mylan for price gouging. Ironically, the same insurance companies that opposed her ideas for health care when she was first lady would be spared from being forced to pay most of that price hike. The World Health Organization has projected upward of 3 million Zika cases in 2016; in March, Clinton called on the do-nothing Republican Congress to fully fund President Obama's request to fight this birth-defect causing disease. It took Trump until August to come out with a half-hearted call to fund Obama's proposal, but only at about 55 percent of what Obama had asked for. Maybe Trump will put mosquito netting atop his fantasy fence.

Advertisement

You might recall that Obamacare opponents carried "Keep your hands off my Medicare" signs to their protests. Clinton has long-favored expanding Medicare. Trump was in favor of protecting Medicare before he favored turning it over to the insurance companies.

Clinton is no newcomer to the idea that families are the foundation of our society. Before she stepped on the national stage, she was Arkansas' first lady, where she worked to introduce the HIPPY — Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters — Program. HIPPY helps preschoolers in poor households by helping parents engage in preparing their children for school. She has supported expanding preschool, the Head Start program and paid family leave for both mothers and fathers. Leaving aside the Trump campaign's blatant lies that Clinton had no child care plan, his ideas on paid leave have "evolved" (a polite way to say flip-flopped) from "I think we have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it" to calling for up to six weeks of unpaid leave — and only for mothers, with tax deductions for child care. This helps poor families not at all; how does a tax deduction pay for child care when you're not wealthy? Perhaps Trump's blowing-in-the-wind change in direction was motivated by the fact that more than 3 in 4 voters actually want expanded family leave and child care.

To be sure, Clinton's views on policy issues have changed. In 2013, she came out in support of gay marriages; in 2004, Sen. Clinton opposed them. So did Republicans Rob Portman, Dick Cheney, former presidential candidate John Huntsman, and DOMA supporter Bob Barr. Trump declared himself both for and against gay rights on successive days (Aug. 14 and 15). And Clinton's reversals on funding college education and the Trans Pacific Partnership seem more politically motivated by the Sanders campaign than by deep reflection on the policy impact. That said, Clinton's record over the long time she has been in public life has been pretty consistent. Her support for health care, children's welfare, families, national defense, education, Social Security, voting rights, veterans' benefits, the environment, campaign finance reform, comprehensive immigration reform and criminal justice reform has been clear and unambiguous. Donald Trump's positions on these issues changes with the phases of the moon. The only things we can count on Trump for are instability, inaccuracy and his huge ego.

Mitch Edelman writes from Finksburg. Email him at mjemath@gmail.com.

Advertisement
Advertisement