With the house vote looming Friday on the American Health Care Act, President Donald Trump has started to distance himself from the possibility if the House bill does not pass. First reported by the New York Times, President Trump, “reportedly questioned his decision to several allies, saying he should’ve prioritized tax reform after seeing the immediate Republican fallout from the GOP healthcare proposal.”
After inviting and courting congressional members to the White House this week, the President has been unable to satisfy Republicans House Freedom Caucus members who find the bill does not do enough to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
The President, who places extreme value on being seen as a winner, seems to be trying to change the perception that he bears any responsibility if the bill fails. After all, President Trump wants to be known as a skilled negotiator and closer. Therefore, do not be surprised if President Trump and those in the West Wing try to redirect blame on the House Freedom Caucus members or even Speaker Ryan.
This all despite what White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated just a week ago at his daily press briefing after being asked if Speaker Ryan was leading the President down the wrong path.
“On the second, Donald Trump is not one to be led down a path by anyone. I think he is — he talked today at the lunch with the Taoiseach and Speaker Ryan that he’s working hand-in-glove with the Speaker. He talked about it last night. This is a commitment that he has to enacting healthcare. This is a process that he is committed to, wants to see through because of a goal that he wants to achieve, which is making a more patient-centric healthcare system that lowers the cost and increases the options.
But he doesn’t get led down any path. He leads very clearly. And I think if you listen to Speaker Ryan today, he’s in agreement that there’s been a strong partnership between the House, the administration and I think the Senate so far to make sure that we get this bill done. And that’s what our goal is going to be, and that’s — so I would argue that we’ve actually done a pretty good job of getting that done.’
Politically, President Trump may be right. Maybe he should have learned the lessons of President Obama when the Affordable Healthcare Act was passed and not tried to rush this bill through. Maybe he should have led with tax and regulatory reform and earned some wins. After all, President Trump is not ideological. However, I believe this would not have solved the problem with healthcare. The issue is not leading with healthcare first, but the actual healthcare bill itself. This is less about President Trump’s process or even his negotiating abilities and more about a bad bill. If President Trump wants to win, he would join with the House Freedom Caucus and start over.