There’s an important backdrop to President Trump’s decision on CSR payments last week and the just announced deal in the Senate to stabilize Obamacare marketplaces. It’s one to follow closely. It’s one we’ll be following closely in our reporting.
If this bill becomes law, that’s a good thing in policy terms. That’s a big if. But the need for this bill was in significant measure created by President Trump’s decision to cut off CSR payments. In other words, President Trump created this necessity.
It is a very uncomfortable necessity for Republicans, particularly in the House. (Alice Ollstein takes a first look at that here.) The compromise makes some significant concessions to Republicans. But at least from my initial look they are not concessions that undermine the core law. That means that now every Republican who votes for it can be pilloried as “voting for Obamacare” or “voting to make Obamacare permanent.”
Of course, there’s some upside for Republicans too. Passing this bill may avoid some of the more dire rate hike outcomes in the midst of the 2018 midterms. But again, President Trump didn’t have to create this mess in the first place.
Every Republican who votes for this is at the mercy at the most aggressive GOP primary opponents. They will all be hanging there terribly exposed. I just heard a talking head on MSNBC arguing that Trump’s – apparent – support for this compromise will give those people cover. Hardly. President Trump is too hostile to CSR payments, too hostile to Obamacare and simply too mercurial and erratic to place any trust on.
If McConnell and Ryan pass this bill with mainly Democratic votes, that puts them in a terrible bind. They let Democrats pass Obamacare again. Remember, Bannon already wants to oust McConnell as the arch-RINO with a storm of primary challengers.
President Trump created this problem. It puts Republicans in an awful bind. Keep an eye on reactions from Republicans, particularly in the House but in the Senate too. We will too.