The Republicans were given a gift by Trump’s campaign, a grace they did not merit: the gift of freedom from the trap of dogma, from the pre-existing condition of zombie Reaganism, from an agenda out of touch with the concerns of their actual constituents. Nominating Trump wasn’t as suicidal as it seemed only because he had the political cunning to run against the party’s ideological enforcers, while promising working-class voters not just cultural acknowledgment but material support.
As written, the A.H.C.A. basically takes Trump’s gift to the party and hurls it off the highest possible cliff. It is not just the scale of the likely insurance losses, or how much the rich benefit from repeal relative to everybody else. It’s also the gulf between that reality and what Trump and various Republican leaders explicitly promised — insisting that their plan would deliver better coverage, lower premiums, and a lot of other things that have since taken a back seat to making room in the budget for more tax cuts.
When President Obama said — lyingly – that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” his party ultimately paid for it. A reasonably competent Democratic Party, with something like the A.H.C.A. to run against, should be able to make Republicans pay dearly in their turn.
Indeed, the A.H.C.A. should make the Democrats’ various internal dilemmas easier to resolve. Were Trump actually governing along the populist lines he promised, the intra-Democratic debate over “identity politics versus class politics versus making it all about Trump (and Russia?)” would be fraught and complicated, the best course of action murky.