Yesterday House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the ObamaCare “repeal” bill from consideration. This was not surprising, in that the Republican base hated the bill even more than Democrats did, mainly because it was an awful bill. Voters elected Republicans who promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, not embrace and extend it.
Let’s face it: A firm grasp of health care policy specifics and a deep understand of the many nuances of federalism are not among Trump’s demonstrated virtues. But he would have had to be very tone-deaf indeed not to notice the discord RyanCare engendered in the Republican ranks.
The media is spinning this as a terrible defeat for President Trump, because of course they are, and because he publicly supported the bill. And Trump did give every indications that he would have signed the bill or proclaimed it both a win and a campaign promised fulfilled had it passed. But I didn’t see the sort of push and focus from Trump indicating that this very major piece of legislation was even his top priority thus far, much less the make-or-break bill of his presidency.
Read this phone interview Trump had with Robert Costa of the Washington Post just hours after the bill was pulled.
efore I could ask a question, Trump plunged into his explanation of the politics of deciding to call off a vote on a bill he had been touting.
The Democrats, he said, were to blame.
“We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it,” Trump said.
Trump said he would not put the bill on the floor in the coming weeks. He is willing to wait and watch the current law continue and, in his view, encounter problems. And he believes that Democrats will eventually want to work with him on some kind of legislative fix to Obamacare, although he did not say when that would be.
“As you know, I’ve been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal. And they will come to us; we won’t have to come to them,” he said. “After Obamacare explodes.”
“The beauty,” Trump continued, “is that they own Obamacare. So when it explodes, they come to us, and we make one beautiful deal for the people.
Spin? Sure. But it does sound like he already has his talking points warmed up and ready to go. Democrats killed the bill. Not one of them was willing to vote for it. ObamaCare’s failures are (still) on their head. Someday soon Democrats will come to us begging for a deal
Maybe passing RyanCare was actually Trump’s plan A. But maybe having it fail, and sticking the failure on Democrats (rather than the House Freedom Caucus) was always a very close plan B.
As Scott Adams has noted time and again, Trump appears to view almost everything through a persuading and deal-making lens. RyanCare wasn’t a failure, it was just an opening bid in a much longer negotiation. (Ann Althouse has similar thoughts.)
The question then becomes: Does the next ObamaCare repeal effort actually end ObamaCare and moves us back toward federalism, or does Trump cut a deal with Democrats to try to pass some sort of move to even more socialized medicine? The later seems unlikely, since a Republican-controlled House and Senate would never pass it and Democrats hate President Trump far too much on an irrationally visceral level to work with him. (Which is ironic, given that he seemed the most liberal Republican candidate when he joined the field in Presidential field in 2015).
For mainstream media pundits spinning this as a crippling loss for Trump: I tend to doubt it. A bill that wasn’t passed in March 2017 isn’t going to be much on the minds of voters in November 2018. Now Trump need not worry about fracturing Republicans over a flawed ObamaCare bill and can move on to other priorities.