Fantasy Trumpcare League

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

We’re seeing a slow but now steady stream of stories suggesting that Trumpcare may not be dead after all. They’re working on it in the background, making progress, getting ready for even more winning.

Put me down as quite skeptical.

Rather than seriously contemplating a new legislative push to repeal Obamacare, this sounds more like a collective GOP effort to moonwalk away from the massive failure to repeal or even prune back Obamacare after promising they’d kill it for seven years.

Consider some problems.

Let’s say the White House really does cut a deal with the Freedom Caucus. It’s not clear that even allows a bill to get out of the House. Presumably that deal makes the bill more draconian. There were probably enough GOP moderates to sink the bill last months. Those changes would likely up that number. It’s doubtful such changes would make the final product more appealing for them. In any case, do those folks in swing districts really want to revisit this at all? It seems very hard to figure how you get a bill out of the House (which of course is why it died in the first place). And the Senate always seemed much harder than the House. I doubt very much that it has gotten any easier.

The political, ideological ground also seems to have moved. The upshot of the failure to repeal seems to have solidified the assumption that millions of people should not lose their coverage. You’d think that was obvious. But Ryan and company were making a big play for choice and having more options not to have insurance and a lot of similar gobbledygook. My read of the fallout of repeal’s failure is that it is now assumed that millions or tens of millions of people losing their care is not okay. That was implicitly the case already. The dynamics of repeal made it explicit.

The fact that Trump and the GOP whiffed on repeal is deeply damaging for the GOP and for Trump, as I noted here. This seems far more like an effort to build a legend the upshot of which is that that whiff never happened. Repeal is still happening. They’re working on it. Don’t you worry. Like I said, it’s like they’re trying to moonwalk away from the fail.