So why revive the Obamacare debate? Why set yourself up for “Trump Defunds Special Olympics” headlines? The answer is that there are effectively two Trump presidencies. One offers something like what the president promised on the campaign trail — a break with Paul Ryan’s green-eyeshade approach to entitlement reform, a more moderate tack on health care, an indifference to Obama-era conservative orthodoxies on fiscal and monetary policy.
The other offers a continuation of the Tea Party’s insistence on spending cuts and Obamacare repeal, and appropriately its present leader is a former Tea Party congressman — Mick Mulvaney, the Zelig of the administration, whose zeal is apparently the main reason that the Obamacare lawsuit now has administration support.
The first presidency is mostly real; the second presidency has been mostly imaginary ever since the failure of Obamacare repeal left Ryanism neutered. Trump hasn’t done some of the biggest heterodox things he promised (an infrastructure bill, most notably). But he has ended austerity budgeting, ignored entitlement reform, reformed Obamacare around the edges while leaving its coverage guarantee intact, embraced protectionism and jawboned the Federal Reserve to be more inflationary.