Cross your fingers for the many House Republicans who reluctantly cast a vote for that fart of a bill back in May on the assumption that the Senate would produce something better. Sure, the House plan was grievously unpopular in poll after poll, but voters would forget that once Mitch McConnell produced a superior proposal that could pass both houses on its way to becoming law. That was the logic. Oops.
I’m sure it’ll be fine. Since when has voting for a very unpopular health-care bill before a midterm cost a party anything?
The obvious way to spin those numbers is to claim that most voters wouldn’t be able to give you even a broad overview of what’s in either GOP health-care bill. Arguably that explains the Democratic reaction — it’s knee-jerk partisan opposition plus loyalty to ObamaCare — but what accounts for the shockingly weak Republican support? If the left is reacting blindly to the bill due to its dislike for Trump, why aren’t Republicans reacting similarly blindly in favor?
Could it be that … a more populist bill, with a sustained barnstorming effort by the president in support of it, might have produced something more popular in counties swayed by Trump’s populist message last year? Failing that, maybe declining to call the farking bill “mean” on camera after you threw a big party in the Rose Garden celebrating its passage might have pushed support for it into the teens, at least, in counties you won last year.
House Republicans aren’t coping so well with all of this tonight:
House Republicans appeared to be in denial Tuesday about the implosion of the GOP’s Obamacare repeal effort in the Senate, insisting a bill could still move forward…
“No, this is not dead,” said Rep. Richard Hudson, a North Carolina Republican who is close to GOP leadership. “Because all the people back home are suffering because they can’t afford health care. We’ve got to do something. We’ve got to.”…
“We took a whiff. Remember? We whiffed the ball back in March,” he said. “And so they need to sit back down, get in a room like we did, have hours and hours of meeting time…We’ve got lots of time. There’s a long summer ahead.”
Let me blow your mind with a proposition that feels like a hot take but might actually be a very hard truth: The best thing that could happen to Trump as president would be … Democrats taking back Congress. Yes or no? Note well: I’m not saying it’s the best thing that could happen to America. It’s certainly not the best thing that could happen to conservatives. But for Trump himself? If, if, if Schumer and Pelosi would be willing to deal, Trump would have all sorts of political cover to pursue the sort of big-government agenda he’s always seemed to favor. Infrastructure would be a breeze. Health-care reforms that expand on ObamaCare’s federal largesse? Sure, why not? The Bernie wing of the party would help him out with protectionism too. And don’t forget comprehensive immigration reform, which the president touted as recently as last week. When conservatives complained about all of this, Trump could say to them, “It sucks but this is what I have to work with in Congress.” His fans would not only give him a pass, they’d celebrate him for having broken the logjam in Washington and ushered in a glorious new age of bipartisan dealmaking. His popularity would soar.
…if, if, if, as I say, the new Democratic majority was willing to work with him. But why would they? He’ll still be hamstrung by the Russiagate investigation in 2019 in all likelihood and the left will howl at Schumer and Pelosi not to hand him any big legislative victories that he could tout in 2020 as part of his reelection campaign. They’d be forced to roadblock him. The best chance Trump would have at a run of bipartisan deals would be if he wins three years from now and Democrats somehow recapture both houses. The White House and Congress might be willing to work together in 2021-22 knowing that Trump would be term-limited, with congressional Dems eager to show the public they can produce where their Republican counterparts failed. That’s the sweet spot for Trump, Schumer, and Pelosi if the electoral stars align.