Huckabee: This health-care bill isn't the end game Trump campaigned on or that Americans care about

He’s been a loyal Trump surrogate since the primaries but watch the clip below and tell me he isn’t enjoying a little sweet revenge for these 2015 tweets.

Money quote from Huck’s interview yesterday with Fox Business:

“If the end game is to save money, then the Republicans might be on the right track. But that’s not the game Donald Trump campaigned on and it is not the endgame that Americans care most about. They want access to affordable and realistic healthcare,” he said.

The states need ways to control Medicaid’s costs, he insists, not a grand-scale rollback. Consider this a reminder that Huckabee was Trump before Trump was Trump: One of the reasons his candidacy in 2008 annoyed so many grassroots conservatives was because he was willing to accept a bigger federal government in certain respects to help his blue-collar base. He sold himself as a conservative, especially socially, but he was an ostentatiously populist one (most notably at Mitt Romney’s expense). Eight years later, Trump rode populism to the presidency but then signed off on a conservative but not-very-populist House health-care bill, confusing and disappointing even some of his friends in right-wing media. Now suddenly McConnell’s pushing another massive Medicaid rollback with a subsidies scheme that would hit older middle-class Americans — Trump’s base — especially hard financially. This clip is a message from the Ghost of Populism Past to the Ghost of Populism Present: Stop worrying about money and do what you came to Washington to do.

Trump may end up having no choice. McConnell is sounding alarms that if the caucus doesn’t come together and rubber-stamp a Republican bill, Chuck Schumer’s going to dictate terms:

McConnell has told senators for weeks that he fears a failed repeal effort would be followed by a large bailout of the insurance industry that would be supported by moderate Republicans and Democrats, per people familiar with his thinking. And McConnell would be content to not touch Obamacare repeal again if this bill failed…

If the bill fails, Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his members would be empowered to negotiate with centrist Republicans to save the flailing markets. A trio of Democratic senators met with some Republicans this spring to discuss a bipartisan proposal to shore up the nation’s health care system, but there are many elements of the GOP’s bill that those Democrats will not support.

“This seems like a bigger problem for House/Senate than for Trump,” tweets lefty Benjy Sarlin. I agree. Trump complained recently that the House bill was too “mean” and didn’t have enough “heart,” by which he meant it was too stingy. Fiscal conservatives can live with that; populists like Huckabee and statists like Schumer can’t. If the GOP bill goes down and Schumer suddenly enters the picture, the pricetag of “reforming” ObamaCare will balloon, horrifying the Rand Pauls and Ted Cruzes of the Senate but potentially making a lot of blue-collar voters happy. Why Trump doesn’t understand that or, if he does, why he refuses to act on it by demanding a bipartisan bill from McConnell is hard to grasp. I can only assume that the White House has convinced itself that the voters on the left and center who have already turned on Trump are gone for good and therefore he has no hope of reelection unless he placates the right at every opportunity. Tribalism is carrying the day here so far, on both sides, even though both the White House and the minority party would benefit from a deal.