Thursday, March 23, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He gave the House an ultimatum: pass Trumpcare exactly as-is right now, or pass nothing ever.

Today was the deadline set by Speaker Paul Ryan to vote on the AHCA, but both moderate and conservative Republicans have expressed serious reservations or outright opposition to the bill (and Democrats oppose it unanimously). As it became increasingly clear that the bill would not pass today--in spite of Trump's confident assurances that it would--he told House Republicans that if they failed to pass the latest version, he would allow the ACA to stand and allow them to suffer the political fallout.

Trump, who published (but did not write) the book The Art of the Deal and many other books touting his skill as a negotiator, hasn't had much luck negotiating with his own party this week. During a meeting Tuesday, Trump told Republicans that if they voted against his bill, they would pay a political price and that he personally would "come after" individual members in the 2018 elections. After that meeting, the "nay" votes from within the GOP caucus went up.

One potential flaw in Trump's take-it-or-leave-it stance is that a majority of Americans, according to recent polling, would be perfectly happy to see the ACA (also known as Obamacare) kept intact--and an even larger majority oppose Trump's replacement plan.

Why should I care about this?

  • A president whose "negotiating" skills aren't enough to get his own party's votes is either a very bad negotiator or trying to pass a terrible bill.
  • It's hard to know what to make of a president who is willing to give up on his top domestic policy priority the first time he encounters resistance of any sort.