The Trumpcare Strategy, Apparently, is Trump

I don’t know whether I’ll be spending each day on the ins and outs of the Trumpcare story.  But it is sort of nice to be reading and writing about something which resembles normal national politics, instead of a drunken rewrite of Three Days of the Condor.

The rocky rollout of the House GOP healthcare bill now seems to be looking for stabilizaion under the steady hand of… Pres. Trump.  The Donald, VP Mike Pence, Cabinet secretaries and others plan to barnstorm the country in support of the bill.

Meanwhile, House leadership is making the vote a binary choice (this is what the GOP does now) and are ready to bring in Trump as the “big gun” when needed.  Trump is said to be wooing conservative members of Congress, but the message being sent is that there will be no major changes to a draft disliked by most conservatives.

At the Washington Examiner, David Freddoso thinks the “you’re with us or against us” approach won’t work, but he doesn’t offer much in support of the assertion.  As I noted yesterday, House Republicans stand to lose if the bill fails, or if a bad bill passes.

As Ben Domenech noted yesterday in his newsletter, The Transom, the GOP will own whatever the healthcare sector looks like once they are done.  Health insurance in America has been getting dysfunctional since FDR gave unions tax-deductable employer-based coverage as a bone during WWII.  And it was made much worse in the years since Medicare was enacted.  Obamacare essentially removed the concept of insurance from health insurance.

The House GOP bill makes at least a half-step back from that quagmire, but nowhere near enough to undo what government has done.  Consequently, even before seeing CBO projections, we may well anticipate that what the GOP will own won’t be very popular.  Indeed, the complaint that the GOP should have been more interested in healthcare policy in years past fails to consider the obvious non-ideological political reality that caused GOP politicians to mostly complain at the margins.

It’s not all the GOP’s fault, of course.  Americans have become accustomed to demanding that health insurance not follow the laws of basic economics.  This as much as anything is responsible for the GOP’s ideological retreat from the outset.  This incoherence is also at the root of not only the antipathy for the bill from conservatives, but also the general lack of enthusiasm or constituency for the bill anywhere else.

Enter Trump as enforcer and salesman for a bill which in all probability, he doesn’t understand.  He merely understands the the necessity for “winning,” which is perhaps the only problem the bill solves.

Spoiler alert:  If the product is ultimately bad, Trump isn’t going to save it or the politicians who voted for it.  Much is made of Trump’s supposed salesmanship, but when he’s strong-arming Congresspeople, I hope they remember how Trump Steaks and Trump Water dominated the market for years and…oh, wait.

I also hope they remember that Pres. Obama told Dems in 2010 that the difference between then-upcoming midterms and the party’s 1994 debacle was “you’ve got me.”  What Dems had was a President with a hardcore base of fans who did not turn out when he wasn’t on the ticket.

The GOP now has Trump.  Perhaps it will be different this time.  If it is, it will be because the economy has improved, or ISIS is defeated, not because of whatever the GOP settles for in healthcare policy.

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