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Steve Bannon has given Democrats a gift. Will they use it?


Bannon took the stage at the Value Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., this weekend to give his usual quasi-populist, quasi-intellectual spiel. With allusions to Plutarch and Shakespeare, Bannon’s speech was yet another shot across the bow of the Republican establishment, which Bannon has pledged to take on in 2018 and beyond. But Bannon also weighed in on more recent events, most notably Donald Trump’s decision to end Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies, or CSRs.

“Then you had Obamacare,” Bannon said as he listed Trump’s accomplishments. “Not going to make the CSR payments. That’s going to blow that thing up—gonna blow those exchanges up, right?” The crowd went wild.

To be fair, Trump has basically made the same argument and has stressed that these moves were designed to pressure Democrats to come to the negotiating table. But he’s also pushed another argument at the same time, which is that these payments only benefit insurance companies, not millions of Americans.

The argument that Democrats should be making again and again is that Trump is taking actions that directly harm Americans by lessening health care coverage and increasing its cost. They now have a video of Steve Bannon, a man who is extremely unpopular, admitting that the president is causing health care costs to increase and health care coverage to decrease out of pure sabotage.

As crises have piled up over the last month, Democrats have once again stopped talking health care. That’s a mistake—it most likely will be the decisive issue in 2018. And now Steve Bannon is making their best argument for them.