Trump the Great Deal Maker Makes the Freedom Caucus an Offer it can Refuse
In CNBC world, you’re hearing this is Trump’s first put up or shut up moment:
“U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, but traded well off their session highs, as nerves surrounding a key vote in the House regarding a Republican-led health care bill increased.”
“The health care bill is really the first ‘put up or shut up’ moment of Trump’s presidency,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network. “With the health care bill, we now will find out whether meaningful change can really happen — or not.”
Let’s hope not. Interesting how The Street considers the issue of Trump being investigated for colluding with Russia subverting our election to be nothing much to worry about. But this is serious.
It’s not necessarily the case that there is hunger for Trumpcare. It’s just that if this fails, then what exactly will pass is the worry.
Scott Sumner at Money Illusion always argues that the President is much less important than we think. This would be a strong example in support of that theory. Jonathan Chait has argued that Obama’s transformation of America was successful despite Trump’s-illegitimate-win.
Why President Obama's legacy was broader and deeper than you think, and why it will endure https://t.co/HJdOAmXIEx
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) December 24, 2016
We’re just two months into the Trump years and this theory is still looking decent.
What’s clear is Trump-the great Deal Maker in his own mind-has made an offer that the Freedom Caucus has had no trouble refusing. And the more Trump and Ryan have tried to win over conservatives the more they turn off GOP moderates.
As of this writing, it does not appear that House leaders have sufficient votes to pass the American Health Care Act. As we watch the day’s events unfold, keep in mind some uncomfortable realities for less than rock-ribbed conservative Republicans:
1. “President Trump’s identification with the bill (“Trumpcare”) in most cases is a negative for members still on the fence. For Republicans in districts carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump’s support is the kiss of political death. For moderate Republicans in districts where Trump won narrowly — voters were willing to give him a chance to prove he was sane and competent — this also is a negative. (Hey, we didn’t vote for that!) With the Koch brothers willing to fund members who vote against the bill, the safer choice for most of these will be to vote no.”
There has been a notable phenomenon that anything that Trump supports tends to become more unpopular. With Tryancare, it has been mutually reinforcing as Trump’s numbers have tanked the last couple weeks in correlation with this bad, very bad, no good bill he’s allowed Paul Ryan to slap his name on.
2. “House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and the White House made a bad situation worse for the members most at risk. Had the original version of the AHCA been put to a vote (or pulled), conservatives could tell voters that they held their ground, and moderates could say they stood up to Trump. Now, a bill that, for example, makes it possible to offer insurance without pediatric services or maternity care may please hard-line Republicans (who have safe seats anyway) but put moderates in a much worse position. They, rather than Republicans in safe seats, become the decisive votes. They vote yes, and they really get slammed in 2018. They vote no (without the company of far-right Republicans), and the base will come after them. Moderates, in other words, need to avoid a vote or have the cover of conservatives to vote no with them.”
UPDATE: Moderates then, must be breathing a sigh of relief as tonight’s vote that Paul Ryan has spoken so bravely about is being postponed.
“House leaders postponed a vote Thursday on their plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system, as they struggled to meet demands of conservative lawmakers who said they could not support the bill.”
“Earlier Thursday, conservative House Republicans had rebuffed an offer by President Trump on Thursday to strip a key set of mandates from the nation’s current health-care law, raising doubts about whether House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) had the votes.”
“Trump met at the White House with the most conservative House Republicans, hoping to close a deal that would help ensure passage of the party’s health-care plan by shifting it even further to the right. But the session ended with no clear resolution, and some lawmakers said they needed more concessions before they would back the bill.”
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), asked whether the White House had made its final negotiating offer, said that if that’s the case, “They’re not going to pass the bill.”
Talks continued, however, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he still anticipated a vote on the measure by day’s end. Asked whether there was an alternative plan to the current bill, Spicer replied: “No. it’s going to pass. So that’s it.”
So that’s it. Except, that’s not it:
“House leaders postpone vote on their health-care plan.”
Who knew it was this hard? As John Oliver exclaims ‘literally everybody.’
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
There is nothing more important in getting answers to Trump-Russia collusion than a Democratic House in 2019. Please donate to help me in my part of the effort to fight for a Dem House.
Thank you. We must have a Dem House. And so, we will.