Well, that was a surprise. I did not expect to see the Trumpcare bill crash and burn as it did yesterday when the speaker Paul Ryan pulled it from the floor of House of Representatives shortly before the scheduled vote because he did not have the votes to pass it and wanted to avoid an embarrassing defeat, although the effective defeat is being seen as equally devastating. I thought that too many factors were in favor of some version of it passing.
After all, even though Donald Trump is unlikely to know what is in the bill and cares even less, what he does want to do desperately is ‘win’ and passage of anything would be seen as a win. I thought that his ‘take it or leave it’ demand coupled with the threat to treat those who voted against it as his enemies whom he would attack and defeat in the future (which seems to be what he boasts of as ‘the art of the deal’) would be sufficient to cow them into getting in line. But it looks like Trump is learning that what works with building contractors who can be replaced with other contractors does not work with members of Congress who cannot be similarly replaced.
Meanwhile the Republicans have voted over fifty times in the past to repeal Obamacare when Barack Obama was president and now they had the chance to actually carry out what had become such a popular slogan with their base of ‘repeal and replace’. After all, they had a 21-votr majority in the House, a two-vote majority in the Senate, and no presidential veto to fear. Given that the differences between the factions was only about the extent to which they wanted to stick it to the poor and give money to the rich, surely that would be sufficient for them to cobble together some sort of face-saving deal that they could later amend to their liking?
This is a big defeat for both Trump and Ryan. During the campaign he boasted that he would win so much that people may tired of all the winning under his presidency. Given that the courts have blocked his Muslim ban and now this defeat, he is now being widely mocked as to whether people are tired of winning already.
Of course, Trump seems incapable of ever seeing himself as being wrong about anything or the loser in anything so his response to the debacle is unsurprisingly delusional:
Speaking afterward in the Oval Office, Trump blamed Democrats for the failure of a bill to repeal the signature achievement of Barack Obama. “If [Democrats] got together with us, and got us a real healthcare bill, I’d be totally okay with that. The losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because they own Obamacare. They 100% own it,” said the president.
What is he talking about? Pelosi and Shumer are proud to own it and they are in fact crowing about it.
Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, called Friday “a great day for our country”, adding: “What happened on the floor was a victory for the American people.”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement: “Ultimately, the Trumpcare bill failed because of two traits that have plagued the Trump presidency since he took office: incompetence and broken promises. In my life, I have never seen an administration as incompetent as the one occupying the White House today.
“They can’t write policy that actually makes sense, they can’t implement the policies they do manage to write, they can’t get their stories straight, and today we’ve learned that they can’t close a deal, and they can’t count votes.
“So much for the Art of the Deal.”
I for one am glad to see that smug look wiped off Paul Ryan’s face with his farcical claims to want the best for everyone, rather than the rich.
Under the Republican plan, the less money you made, the worse off you would be. An analysis by the Tax Policy Center found that people who make less than $10,000 per year would have lost $1,400 per year because of cuts to Medicaid. People earning between $50,000 and $75,000 would have seen a small tax break of about $60.
However, the very poorest would probably suffer the most. A vast $880bn cut to Medicaid would result in 14 million fewer people using the service, Congressional analysts found.
By contrast, rich Americans would have seen a significant tax benefit. People who earn $200,000 per year or more would see an average tax break of $5,640, or about 1.1% of their income. Nearly all of that is from tax breaks Republicans included in the bill.
Ryan’s façade of being less of an ideologue and more of a serious policy wonk, an image that many in the media have promoted for so long, has been stripped away. The reports that emerged during the run up to the vote that cutting Medicaid was something that he had looked forward to with his friends during his college days revealed his hateful side. What kind of person, while still a college student, dreams of cutting health benefits to the poor? I will tell you. It is someone who belongs to the cult of Ayn Rand and that delirium tends to be at at its strongest in late adolescence and early adulthood.
For the coming week, there will be the usual game of Republicans pretending that they were all united but foiled by the dastardly Democrats, while behind the scenes they will stab each other in the back as they try to avoid blame for the debacle by pointing the finger of blame at others in the party.
So what now? What may happen is that Trump and the Republicans try to sabotage Obamacare administratively and through budget cuts so that it becomes a mess and then claim that it needs to be at least modified and hope that Democrats will go along with them. But I don’t see why Democrats would agree to such a scheme. After all, the Republicans are now in full control and any failures of Obamacare from now on can be laid at their feet, with the famous claim that “they broke it, they own it”.