A key bit from today’s FreedomWorks rally against the House bill. Skip to 2:15 of the clip below. In Philip Klein’s formulation:
2010: Elect us to stop Obamacare.
2011: Can't stop it without Senate.
2015: We need the WH to stop Obamacare.
2017: We can't stop Obamacare.
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) March 7, 2017
Bingo, and Cruz is in sync. This is why I think Trump’s kidding himself in believing that if the bill goes down, he’ll just kick back, wait for the ObamaCare exchanges to tank, and then blame the ensuing mess on Democrats. It’s not that simple, for exactly the reason Klein and Cruz identify: There’ll be no reason for voters to trust the GOP to reform the health-insurance industry in 2018 after eight years of steadily amassing power and failing at every turn. Given the divisions within the caucus, with centrists like Lisa Murkowski and Rob Portman wanting a bill with stronger Medicaid protections and conservatives like Cruz and Rand Paul favoring a plan with less federal spending, is there any reason at this point to think the GOP could pass a consensus reform bill even if it had a filibuster-proof majority? How many Republicans do Americans need to send to the Senate to get something better than “ObamaCare Lite”?
And those divisions are about to get worse if this Axios report is true:
The Trump administration will push the House Republican leadership to move up the end date for Medicaid expansion in the Obamacare replacement bill, cutting off states’ ability to enroll new people with extra federal funds in 2018 rather than 2020, according to a source with direct knowledge of the administration’s plans.
The administration also wants to block states that haven’t expanded Medicaid from doing so before the expansion ends. Both changes would be a major concession to conservatives, who don’t want states to rush in and join what they see as an increasingly expensive entitlement.
Trump had been considering doing that in order to placate conservatives like Cruz but this is the first news I’ve seen that he’s committed to it. If he follows through, it’s going to scare the hell out of moderates in the House and Senate. Remember, on the day the House bill was released, four centrist Republicans issued a statement warning Trump and Ryan not to be aggressive in ending ObamaCare’s Medicaid rollback. Now Trump, in order to please the right, is set to be even more aggressive than Ryan’s plan originally called for. Without those four votes, how does the bill pass the Senate even under the lower threshold in reconciliation?
I’ve asked this question before but it’s worth repeating. If Ryan and Trump whiff on getting anything passed and ObamaCare continues to deteriorate (which, it’s worth noting, CBO does not project), which party will midterm voters trust more to “fix” health insurance? The party that stuck them with O-Care in the first place or the party that can’t get something done even when they have total control of government?