The set up for the Obamacare replacement vote was under a dark cloud from the beginning.
The conservative wing of the GOP, the House Freedom Caucus held firm in their opposition, citing a failure to lower premiums adequately, and calling it the “largest welfare program ever proposed in the history of the Republican Party,” to quote Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks.
President Trump pushed, threatened to primary any Republicans who stood against the bill, visited the House Freedom Caucus several times, in order to persuade them, and it still fell apart.
In fact, rather than picking up more votes, it seemed to lose votes.
By the early afternoon, it became clear that the votes would not be there. Paul Ryan visited Trump in the Oval Office, to let him know in person that their bill was DOA, and to ask what he wanted to do.
What the president did was sit in front of media cameras and blame Democrats – not House Republicans – for their lack of support.
“We were very close, it was a very tight margin. We had no Democrat support, no votes from the Democrats,” Trump said, flanked by Vice President Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told reporters in the Oval Office.
“I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own ObamaCare,” the president added.
For starters, they were never going to get any Democrat support. Obamacare was the signature achievement of Obama’s presidency. It is his legacy, and by extension, it is the legacy of budding Socialism the Democrats have always wished on America. They were not going to facilitate its demise.
Nor were they prepared to side with an administration they loathe.
The GOP hold the majority, so passage of this bill was never predicated on the support of Democrats. To blame them for its failure is a bit disingenuous.
“When it explodes, which it will soon, if they got together with us and we got a real healthcare bill, I would be totally open to it, ” Trump said.
The comments were Trump’s first since he and GOP leaders decided to pull the American Health Care Act (AHCA) off the House floor after it became clear they were well short of the votes they needed to pass it.
This is a change in tactics for Trump. He likely feels that if he can coax a few Democrat lawmakers to side with him, it will mitigate the loss of any Republican votes in any future attempts to revive the bill.
A better strategy is to actually listen to the conservatives in the House and allow for true compromise.
Start over, but begin with a full repeal and work up, from there.