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News/analysis wrap-up: TrumpCare implosion

A lot of ink (so to speak) and air time (ditto) has been devoted to Beltway politics this week, due to the on-again, off-again vote on #TrumpCare (AKA repeal of ObamaCare).

This post contains the best stories/analysis on Friday’s implosion … ready-set-go!

1. ‘Hello, Bob’: President Trump called my cellphone to say that the health-care bill was dead

First up: Trump called this Washington Post reporter to tell him the bill was dead. Look who Trump blames for its defeat.

“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 would also use this deflection with the NY Times:

“Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero,” Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview he initiated with The New York Times.

2. “Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with some growing pains”

This quote from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) may have given me the most heartburn of any that I read.

Why is that? Because

  1. The GOP has controlled the House of Representatives 18 of the past 22 years. The prior two years (2015-2016), the GOP controlled BOTH the Senate and the House.
  2. For half of Bush’s presidency, the GOP controlled the House and the Senate. That was NOT very long ago. And the folks in Congress? They leave, in the main, when they decide to retire or do something else. Our “re-election” rate is on par with countries that hold faux elections.
    average tenure congress

    Average Service Tenure, Senators and Representatives, FAS

    Reelection rate, OpenSecrets

  3. Had the GOP actually wanted to govern — that is, move the country forward — it would have been working with the minority party in the House the past six years. Instead, it saw a black man in the White House and said, in effect, “Hell no.”

Moreover, a year ago, the Republican-controlled House and Senate sent an American Health Act (ACA/ObamaCare) repeal bill to the President for his veto, safe in the knowledge that it would be vetoed.

Groundhog Day references will likely be inevitable when the House votes once again Tuesday, Feb. 2, on legislation to repeal ObamaCare.

The House has voted more than 60 times since Republicans took over the majority in 2011 to undo the healthcare law. Tuesday’s vote, however, will be the first attempt to override President Obama’s veto of a measure to overturn his signature legislative accomplishment.

Consideration of the repeal measure – the first to pass both the House and Senate – is expected to stall after this week’s vote. Republicans are not expected to secure the necessary two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto.

This is not governing. This is pitching a hissy fit designed for photo-ops and reelection soundbites.

3. The Republican Waterloo

Whether or not you agree with him (and I often do not), David Frum usually provides something to chew on in his essays. This 23 March essay fits that bill and provides important historical context. Plus, it reinforces #2 (above).

It seemed to me that Obama’s adoption of ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s—and then enacted into state law in Massachusetts by Governor Mitt Romney—offered the best near-term hope to control the federal health-care spending that would otherwise devour the defense budget and force taxes upward. I suggested that universal coverage was a worthy goal, and one that would hugely relieve the anxieties of working-class and middle-class Americans who had suffered so much in the Great Recession. And I predicted that the Democrats remembered the catastrophe that befell them in 1994 when they promised health-care reform and failed to deliver. They had the votes this time to pass something. They surely would do so—and so the practical question facing Republicans was whether it would not be better to negotiate to shape that “something” in ways that would be less expensive, less regulatory, and less redistributive.

4. “The GOP right blows up its best chance to reform government.”

This is an unsigned op-ed from the Wall Street Journal (paywall), but worth finding a copy to read (see below on how to do that, legallly).

House Republicans pulled their health-care bill shortly before a vote on Friday, and for once the media dirge is right about a GOP defeat. This is a major blow to the Trump Presidency, the GOP majority in Congress, and especially to the cause of reforming and limiting government… Republicans have campaigned for more than seven years on repealing and replacing ObamaCare, and they finally have a President ready to sign it. In the clutch they choked….

Republicans run the government and that means they are responsible for what happens in health care. Messrs. Trump and Ryan are right that the ObamaCare markets are imploding, and prices will rise and choices will shrink again next year on present trends. Republicans can try to blame Democrats, but they’re in charge….

This failure also reveals the unfortunate skills gap between Democrats and modern Republicans in practical legislative politics. Democrats have their Bernie Sanders faction, which claimed to “oppose” ObamaCare in 2009-10 for lacking a government-run public insurance option. But the far left voted for the bill anyway because they concluded, rightly, that a new entitlement was a great leap toward single-payer national health care….

An ideal free health-care market is never going to happen in one sweeping bill. The American political system is designed to make change slow and difficult, thank goodness. Republicans have to build their vision piece by piece…

But much of the current conservative establishment profits from fanning resentments, not governing. Legislative compromises don’t help Heritage Action raise money for its perpetual outrage machine. An earlier generation of leaders at Heritage understood that the goal of winning elections was to achieve something. The current leaders seem happy with failure.

The WSJ editorial board has been increasingly vocal in its unhappiness with this Administration.

[For greater Seattle-area residents, login to SPL; go to the newspaper database reference page; then click “National Newspapers” to access ProQuest; the WSJ and NYT database links are on this page. If you live in the greater metro area (Thurston – Snohomish) and do not have a Seattle Public Library card, talk to me!]

5. Making an “enemies” list

I tweeted Friday that one disappointment from pulling the bill was that GOP representatives got a “pass” from having their “yes” votes on the record. (A vote is more powerful than a statement that someone plans to vote one way or another. Rubber meets road.)

I wasn’t alone, it seems, but in reverse. From the NYT:

One Hill Republican aide who was involved in the last-minute negotiations said Mr. Bannon and Mr. Short were seeking to compile an enemies list.

And let’s not forget the ultimatum.

White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon told a group of House conservatives they had no choice but to back the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill days before the bill was pulled… “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill,” Bannon reportedly said.

***

Two final notes, for the record. A potential “no” vote does not mean that the Representative thinks ACA should be retained. And what was it that they didn’t vote on, anyway?

What stories of note did you read?

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