If Trump ever wanted to show off his deal making prowess, today’s the day. The President is inviting all 52 Republican Senators to lunch, in a last-ditch effort to revive an Obamacare repeal. But if that doesn’t work, he’ll opt for what he now says he wanted all along anyhow: letting Obamacare fail utterly, then waiting for Democrats to come crawling back, begging for a fix. To us that’s tantamount to saying “I care more about me winning, than I care about people.”
And Trump, if he wants, could hasten Obamacare’s potential demise by cutting off cost-sharing subsidies to health insurance companies. The next monthly payment is scheduled for tomorrow. The Trump administration has been playing chicken with insurers on an almost monthly basis.
Meanwhile, Ezra Klein points out something on Vox that a lot of people are overlooking: the main reason the Obamacare repeal failed, is that Obamacare is working, especially for people that have been helped by Medicaid expansion, which is what Republicans went after most doggedly.
The Buck Definitely Does Not Stop Here
We counted: in his approximately 5 minutes of public comments, the President blames someone else, changes the subject, or says this is what he wanted all along 15 separate times (although he returns to several themes a lot), without giving a whiff of personal responsibility even 1 time.
A few key quotes:
• “I’m not gonna own it.”
• “I was sitting in the Oval Office…pen in hand, waiting to sign something.”
• “I’ve been saying that for a long time: let Obamacare fail, it’ll be a lot easier.”
It’s worth watching the whole thing:
Going Forward, Options Have Changed Dramatically.
Let’s do a quick check. Assuming Trump doesn’t get everybody back on track at lunchtime today, passage of a replacement bill, or repeal with no replacement seem to be off the table. So here’s what’s on it:
• Republicans do nothing; move on to other things. As we mentioned above, that leaves it up to the President whether to keep paying cost-sharing subsidies to insurance companies, or stop and allow Obamacare to “explode” (as he loves to say). The end game in this scenario, according to the President, is Democrats come groveling, begging him to help. Also now, according to the President, it’s what he wanted all along.
• Republicans start working with Democrats now on measures to shore up insurance marketplaces, but not a whole new bill. This would go against the crash-and-burn approach the President says he favors, but Senate Majority Leader McConnell has raised this possibility several times, even before it became clear the Senate’s health care bill would collapse.
• Republicans start working with Democrats now on a brand new bill. While House and Senate leadership are already moving on to the budget, tax reform and other things, this is a unique opportunity that may have a very short window. To this end, moderate Republicans and Centrist Democrats are already meeting. In most cases, that wouldn’t make much of a difference absent support of leadership and/or the President. But there may be a rare opportunity here if they can come up with something good, and relatively quickly, to force the issue by taking their case directly to the public.
(This story originally appeared in The Chaos Report newsletter. Sign up: https://thechaosreport.com/subscribe/?scr=Medium)