Trump did hire a diehard conservative wonk to help him in Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. But Price’s ideas about health-care reform tend to devolve into a complicated set of pushes and pulls and nudges. A tax credit here, another one there. It’s the type of politics that Trump mostly despised during his campaign.
If Trump is surrounded by populist Svengalis, they should be whispering in his ear about a great opportunity. Trump’s advisors should know that the Paul Ryans or Rand Pauls of this world are eminently “gettable” so long as the Republican president they serve is popular, and so long as they don’t see a viable path to changing his course.
If he decided to tackle the project with energy, Trump could unite enough of his party behind a health-care reform that expands coverage even more than ObamaCare. He may be able to do this while lowering the price of coverage on the bottom end through some smart deregulation of insurance plans. If he has to do this by pairing it with even deeper tax cuts, so be it. Republican lawmakers only care about deficits and debt ceilings when a Democrat is in the White House.
It’s a grand opportunity. And the more Republicans broadcast their divisions, the larger and more obvious the opportunity for a truly disruptive form of leadership becomes.