Success has a thousand fathers, the saying goes, while failure is an orphan. If so, lots of people in Washington DC want to conduct paternity tests over the stunning failure of Republicans to pass a repeal of ObamaCare in some form. The Hill reports that the Senate Republican caucus wants to blame Donald Trump for a lack of effort in pushing for unity, while the White House blames Mitch McConnell for not whipping the troops sufficiently:
White House officials are blaming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for getting stuffed at the goal line on ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation, while GOP senators say Trump failed to provide any meaningful political momentum for the prized measure.
“He was of no help,” grumbled one GOP senator, who doubted that Trump would have done much to defend lawmakers from political attacks if the bill passed.
A member of Trump’s team says their boss bears no responsibility for the embarrassing loss because McConnell was in charge of putting together a Senate package.
“This was McConnell’s deal,” said a White House official when asked what went wrong.
Not too surprisingly, Joe Scarborough laid the failure at the feet of Donald Trump earlier today on Morning Joe, scoffing at Trump’s lack of serious effort to bring Republicans together:
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) July 19, 2017
Joe offers a ton of scorn that seems more based on personal feuding than anything else, but he makes a good point about trust that almost gets missed in this. Trump did toss House Republicans under the bus on their first attempt at the AHCA, calling it “mean” and ramping up the opposition to the effort. Senate Republicans had no reason to trust Trump to provide them political cover. Joe misses another point that Allahpundit brought up yesterday, which is that Trump hamstrung them from the start by promising not to cut Medicaid, even though the expansion costs have skyrocketed and the need to control costs for core Medicaid is now more pressing as well.
Others, such as my good friend Hugh Hewitt, are attacking all the dissidents for “saving ObamaCare” regardless of the basis of their dissent:
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) July 19, 2017
Senator Ron Johnson joins the White House in assigning blame:
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., blamed Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday for the failure of an Obamacare replacement bill and refused to say he has faith in his leadership.
“This was the responsibility of Senate leadership,” Johnson told reporters on Tuesday, making a point not to blame Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., by name. “It was in our court and we should have handled this.”
McConnell pulled the plug on the replacement bill Tuesday evening after a pair of Republican senators broke with the party and announced they would vote to block debate on the legislation due to policy disagreements. Johnson defended President Trump from charges of being disengaged and, without naming the Kentucky Republican, repeatedly directed blame to the majority leader’s office.
“Who wrote the bill?” he asked rhetorically when reporters tried to get him to blame McConnell.
That’s the bottom line on this debacle. Trump might have worked harder to play a positive role in the effort, but Republicans promised to repeal ObamaCare long before Trump decided to go into politics. Like everyone else, Trump probably assumed the GOP had a plan to accomplish it. He made it clear over the last few weeks that he’d sign anything McConnell and Paul Ryan managed to pass. That doesn’t let Trump entirely off the hook, but it certainly means that the main issue is at the other end of Capitol Hill, and the lack of preparation for governance within the GOP leadership. Perhaps (spoiler alert!) it’s more akin to the solution in Murder on the Orient Express — everyone did it. The ObamaCare repeal flop may not have a thousand fathers, but it has more one or two of them.
The Hill reports that Trump will host a luncheon today with Senate Republicans. Will the White House share its recipe for roasted crow?