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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

President Trump issued an executive order on Thursday pledging to protect Americans with preexisting conditions — which is not only toothless but also is only necessary if a Trump-backed lawsuit successfully dismantles the Affordable Care Act.

Why it matters: The presidential election is a month and a half away, and Republicans learned the hard way in 2018 that threatening the ACA's preexisting conditions protections is politically perilous.

  • But the executive order is yet another example of Trump's political gaslighting on the subject.
  • Executive orders such as this one "don’t have legal effect. They’re just internal memos with a fancy header. That’s all they are," tweeted Nick Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan.
  • Republicans have never come up with another way to offer the same level of protection the ACA does. If Trump succeeds in stripping the ACA's protections away, people with preexisting conditions would have every reason to worry about their coverage.

Trump also said that he'll be sending $200 prescription drug coupons to millions of Medicare beneficiaries "in the coming weeks," which STAT describes as a "nakedly political ploy to curry favor with seniors who view drug prices as a priority."

  • A White House spokesman told STAT that the money required to send these coupons would come from the savings generated by Trump's proposal to tie what the U.S. pays for drugs to what other countries pay — which is far from being actual policy.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Nov 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump allies brace for 30-day legal war

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

GOP leaders and confidants of President Trump tell Axios his legal fight to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory — which they admit is likely doomed — could last a month or more, possibly pushing the 2020 political wars toward Christmastime.

Why it matters: Most top Republicans have followed Trump’s orders not to accept the Biden victory, and to allow all legal options to be exhausted. That could mean weeks of drama — and, more importantly, distractions from the vital work of transitioning government for a change of power.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
25 mins ago - Economy & Business

Biden's inflation danger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.