Trump: ‘Real change’ begins with Obamacare repeal

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Toledo — Donald Trump ripped double-digit Affordable Care Act premium increases, political corruption and international trade agreements Thursday as he urged supporters to vote early in Ohio, a key swing state and predicted he will win “a lot bigger than people even understand.”

In Toledo, Donald Trump presses his case for president, saying he would assess a tariff on firms that move outside the U.S.

The Republican presidential nominee has pounced on recently announced premium rates under the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare, as he seeks to build a surge against Democrat Hillary Clinton with 12 days until the Nov. 8 election.

“Real change begins with immediately repealing and replacing Obamacare. What a mess,” Trump told an enthusiastic crowd of thousands at the SeaGate Convention Center in downtown Toledo, his second of three Thursday rallies in Ohio.

“Hillary Clinton wants to double down on Obamcare, destroying American health care forever and destroying businesses forever,” he said. “…We’re going to repeal it. We’re going to have a really great plan that’s going to cost much less and be much better.”

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The Obama administration confirmed this week that before-subsidy health care premiums will rise an average of 25 percent next year across 39 states served by a federally run online marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

Just north of Toledo in Michigan, rates are expected to increase by an average of 16.7 percent for individual insurance plans, beginning in January. Small group plans will increase by an average of 2.5 percent.

Clinton, who has acknowledged that Affordable Care Act premiums are too high, said this week she has talked with the president about ways to “fix problems” with the law and build on some of its more popular features, including a prohibition against insurers denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Trump said nothing about his own replacement plans Thursday but has previously backed traditional Republican proposals to convert the Medicaid health program for low-income individuals into a block grant program and allow insurers to sell policies across state lines.

Speaking in a state that, like Michigan, relies heavily on the auto industry, Trump reiterated his attacks on international free trade agreements including the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, suggesting more Ohio executives are already planning moves to Mexico.

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership “will kill the rest of your auto jobs and kill jobs generally this country,” Trump said, “but it will never be as bad as NAFTA.”

Trump has hammered Clinton over the TPP, which she supported in concept but opposed once negotiated, and NAFTA, which her husband Bill Clinton signed into law as president.

The brash businessman renewed his call for a 35 percent tariff on products from any company that relocates plants to Mexico, a proposal he has often referenced when discussing Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co., which is shifting small car production south of the border but has said it will not cut jobs in Michigan or the United States.

“I am going to fight for every community in Ohio, in Michigan, in Pennsylvania and all around this nation whose jobs have been ripped out and shipped to another country because we have people who are not capable of properly representing us,” Trump said.

Trump also took aim at Clinton over hacked emails recently published by WikiLeaks, including a new 12-page email from a former adviser to Bill Clinton saying he raised money for “in-kind services” for the Clinton family at the same time he solicited contributions to the nonprofit Clinton Foundation.

“When we win, we are going to Washington, D.C., and we are going to drain the swamp,” he said, alleging general corruption in the nation’s capital. Trump said he did not like the drain metaphor when he began using it two weeks ago but boasted it has now “become one of the hottest phrases in the world.”

A boisterous group of protesters were gathered across the street from the Toledo venue ahead of Trump’s speech, carrying signs highlighting sexual assault allegations against the nominee and rehashing some of his more controversial comments.

Tom Moran of Fenton donned a giant Trump head that he and fellow Michigan activists have taken around the country. He also carried a large package of Tic Tacs, referencing Trump’s lewd 2005 comments about women in which he said he had to use one of the breath mints in case he started to kiss one of them.

“I think the character made them smile a bit,” Moran said of the Trump supporters who were lined up near the protest. “They weren’t too happy about the Tic Tacs though, because I think most women know guys don’t act like that. It’s disgusting.”

While several Trump supporters wore his signature red “Make America Great Again” hats, Joe Garcia of Fenton, Ohio, wore his own home-made version.

Garcia festooned his cowboy hat with Trump’s name, his slogan and stickers reading “deplorable” and “irredeemable,” references to Clinton’s description of some Trump supporters she later apologized for.

“He’s a lot like me. He says what he thinks,” said Garcia, who said he works as a skills tradesman for Chrysler. “... People attack him, and when he attacks back, he’s the one that’s the bad guy. That’s happened to me a lot.”

Trump has not personally campaigned in Michigan since Sept. 30, when he held a rally in Novi and attended fundraisers in Grand Rapids and Detroit. Clinton spoke in Detroit on Oct. 10.

Daughter Chelsea Clinton is set to stump for her mom Saturday in Battle Creek and Muskegon, while Detroit native Dr. Ben Carson will campaign for Trump the same day in Metro Detroit, Grand Rapids and East Lansing.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine will speak Sunday at rallies in Taylor and Warren, and singer Cher will headline a private fundraiser for Clinton on Monday in Bloomfield Hills.