Trumpcare Will Likely Pass. It Won’t Be Pretty.

Let’s start with tweets, then additional thoughts.

The Federalist’s co-founder Sean Davis:

I tend to agree with this.  It is basically how Obamacare was enacted.  But not exactly.

Pres. Obama began buying off “stakeholders” (affected industry groups) before there was draft legislation. This was a key difference from the way Hillary Clinton ran her failed healthcare task force in the1990s.

Also, while Obama did not submit a draft bill for Congress to consider, he had signaled his position on key issues, e.g., exchanges, acceptance of individual and employer mandates, and a possible “public option” competing with private insurers in the exchanges.

It does not appear that the House GOP consulted insurer or hospital groups, while a tweet from Pres. Trump panicked trading in pharma stocks.  The American Hospital Association issued a letter of opposition to the bill.

The AARP supported ObamaCare because it was trading off Medicare cuts for expanded coverage that was potentially quite lucrative for AARP.  The powerful seniors’ lobby is opposed to the House GOP proposal.

Meanwhile, the lack of coordination between the White House and Congress appears to extend to this first major legislative effort.  Indeed, on Monday, Trump claimed that “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” suggesting a certain lack of engagement with the subject.

VP Mike Pence told Congress that “this is the bill,” wile being “open to improvements.”  OMB Dir. Mike Mulvaney, otoh, is stressing the latter, though it seems as if he’s telling conservatives to propose amendments and daring them to vote against the bill if those amendments fail.  Unity!

There also seems to have been no outreach to conservative groups like Heritage, Americans For Prosperity, FreedomWorks, etc., who largely blasted the draft bill.  And the communications strategy seemed non-existent, as House leadership scrambled to explain that this proposal was only the first step or “phase.”

Absent these failures, the House GOP might not be in the position it is now.  Moreover, given Tuesday’s reaction, I would not assume the draft bill resembles an “okay final deal,” even if it might have been on Monday.

In addition, the general lack of White House guidance potentially distinguishes this effort from the Obamacare effort in another way.

With eight GOP Senators raising objections to various major provisions of the House proposal, there is the risk that the bill — or some disputed positions — will die in the Senate.  Some House members will be loath to climb out on a limb that may be sawed off.

This brings us to the unstated common denominator between Obamacare, which passed, and the BTU tax which died (and Hillarycare, and the 2009 cap-and-trade plan that died in the Senate).   Now that repeal/replace/repair/whatevs is on the table, Obamacare is finally sort of popular, albeit by only a few percent. In fairness, much depends on how you ask the question:

But even if you assume that support for O-care is rising in part because the Left now feels it can’t pout over not getting a single-payer system, some of it may also be from people fatigued with disruption of their healthcare arrangements, or those who don’t trust the government to make things better after falling for past promises.

It cannot have escaped the Congressional GOP’s notice that Congressional Dems once delivered on what they promised their base, ramming through a sweeping bill that altered a broad sector of our economy, only to be defenestrated by angry midterm voters.  It’s a big part of why many of those Republicans hold office today.

Running a similar game plan now has to be unnerving.  Arms will probably have to be twisted to the breaking point at the end of the process.  Getting the policy right, and the comms strategy right, and the coordination right would be helpful to those looking for nerve at the beginning.

UpdateThe AMA opposes the House bill.  There will be people who think that interest group opposition is a feature, not a bug.  It viscerally appeals to me as well.  But the White House and Congress aren’t making passing a bill any easier.  People generally trust their doctors, who will be hearing bad things from the AMA.  This is the sort of thing that helped doom Hllarycare.

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Further Down Mike Flynn’s Rabbit Hole

Believe me, I do not intend to get in the habit of writing on a Friday night for a Saturday posting.  However, given the traffic and feedback I got about “Another Flynn Conspiracy Theory,” it’s worth going a bit further down this rabbit hole in a timely manner.

As the kids say on Twitter: Are you ready for some game theory?

Yesterday’s posting was a piece of media criticism examining the evidence — or lack thereof — in a story asserting that fmr national security adviser Mike Flynn was ousted as the result of a campaign waged by fmr Obama adviser Ben Rhodes and a small task force of Obama alumni for the purpose of stopping Flynn from revealing secret aspects of Obama’s Iran deal.

That story is generally lacking in evidence and when acting as a media critic, I judge what’s on the page or screen.  And when commenting on the general reaction to the piece on the right, my general presumption is that readers also should judge what’s on the page or screen.

Nevertheless, I repeatedly stressed that Adam Kredo is a thorough reporter and that if he could have produced more evidence to support this conspiracy theory, he would have done so.  I also refused to dismiss the possibility that the attacks on Flynn were more organized than the groupthink of progressives inside and outside the bureaucracy attacking a weak link in the Trump administration.

The reason I did both things is because — when not wearing a media critic hat — I considered the possibility that Kredo knows or has reason to believe more than what he wrote in his story.

I have no evidence to support that speculation.  Zero, zip, nil, nada.  I have never had any kind of contact with Kredo.  I have had no contact with anyone at the Washington Free Beacon about this story.  That’s why my speculation wasn’t in yesterday’s posting.

But I did have that thought, which influenced the writing.

I had the same sort of speculation after reading Friday’s piece by Mark Hemingway at The Weekly Standard.  I have had contact with Hemingway, though I don’t know whether he knows this.  But I have had no contact with him or anyone affiliated with him about the story.

Hemingway writes that “in recent days there have been rumblings that Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security advisor and architect of the infamous Iran Deal echo chamber; Obama National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor; and other Obama foreign policy officials have been active organizing and leaking against Trump.”  Hemingway links Kredo’s story, but notes its anonymous sourcing and Rhodes calling the theory bizarre.

Nevertheless, Hemingway argues that the consistent appearance of the silly suggestion that Flynn may have violated the Logan Act as a “tell” that there was some sort of campaign being waged against Flynn.  He concludes that “it’s worth trying to get a handle on how active and organized the Obama opposition to Trump is,” a sentiment with which I entirely agree.

I am not quite as sold on the idea that the Logan Act nonsense is a “tell.”  It could be.  OTOH, Dems accused then-candidate Trump of violating the Logan Act for suggesting that Russia should find the 30,000 emails deleted from the private server Hillary Clinton used to mishandle classified information.

The Left also accused Sen. Tom Cotton and 46 other Senate Republicans of violating the Logan Act for publishing a letter to Iran’s leaders that undercut Pres. Obama’s efforts to negotiate the Iran deal (at least this example relates to the Iran deal).  Before that, MoveOn had a petition drive suggesting then-Speaker of the House John Boehner violated the Logan Act by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress.

Plus, I’m old enough to remember when it was GOPers and conservatives who tended to bring up the Logan Act.  In 2007, Republicans claimed then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi violated the Logan Act (even if it shouldn’t have been prosecuted) by meeting with Syrian Pres. Assad.  Fmr. Pres. Jimmy Carter has been accused of violating the Logan Act over the years for his meddling in foreign policy well after his presidency ended.

In 1984, Newt Gingrich accused ten House Democrats, including then-Majority Leader Jim Wright, of violating the Logan Act for offering political advice to Daniel Ortega, leader of the Communist junta that ruled Nicaragua.  James Kirchick brought up the Logan Act not only with respect to Carter, but also regarding Sen. Ted Kennedy’s attempt to get the Soviets to meddle in the 1983 election.

Pres. Ronald Reagan suggested then-Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson had violated the Act during a mission to Cuba (while saying he would not seek a prosecution).

I guess what I’m suggesting is that the Logan Act is just one of those political talking points that people will invoke, given enough aggravation.  So maybe it’s not a “tell” in this case.  But maybe it is.

In either event, Hemingway’s mention of “rumblings” will ring true to anyone who has worked in DC or knows those who have.  Leaking and gossiping are fairly rampant in the Beltway.

And Hemingway mentions Vietor, who is not featured in Kredo’s story, which suggests those rumblings are not just the product of Kredo’s story.  Again, it’s not evidence.  But I’m not doing evidence right now.

People reading Hemingway might speculate that the rumblings extend beyond the Friends of Flynn that Kredo quoted.  Or that Hemingway knows — or has reason to believe he knows — more than he feels comfortable reporting.

But that leaves us with the question Hemingway raises, i.e., how do people get a handle on whether the Flynn/Rhodes/Iran theory is true?

I have a suggestion that will almost certainly be rejected.  If the theory is that Obama alumni orchestrated press leaks against Mike Flynn (or is campaigning against anyone else in the Trump admin), don’t ask anonymous Trump allies.  Instead, ask journalists.

Granted, most of the leak recipients are probably progressives who aren’t going to say a thing.  But the premise of the speculation that writers like Kredo and Hemingway know more than they can report is that anti-Flynn pitches were made to them or others like them.

Of course, it’s further possible that conservative journalists wouldn’t want to burn their lefty sources for both ethical and practical reasons, even by anonymously ratting out those sources to a fellow conservative journalist.  But keep in mind that those who would squeal loudest about this tactic are people who have no problem at all with government officials illegally leaking classified information for political gain.

If these politically-motivated leaks are the threat to the Republic many — including many conservative writers — seem to believe they are, people may want to wrestle with the ethical questions as I do.  The wrestling should not stop there either.

After all, once you take seriously the possibility that conservative journalists know (or have good reason to believe they know) more than they are reporting, you cannot dismiss the possibility that the Big Media journalists and the sources feeding them anti-Flynn material know (or have good reason to believe they know) more than they are reporting.

This leads us back to the unresolved questions surrounding Flynn’s firing.  Given the general tough-on-Iran line up of the Trump administration, are we willing to believe that Obama alumni went after Flynn on this big a scale out of pure personal pique?  If Pres. Trump dismisses the anti-Flynn leak stories as “fake news,” then why did he ask for Flynn to resign?  Why was Flynn cashiered for misleading VP Mike Pence if the FBI concluded Flynn was truthful in claiming it was unintentional?  And so on.

This is the problem: When you start going down a rabbit hole, you generally don’t know how deep it will go.

Update: If you’re into speculation about this topic, per my warning about what the Deep State or Big Media might know that we don’t, read HotAir’s Allahpundit on FBI Director Comey’s long and mysterious meeting with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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