This piece by TPM’s Tierney Sneed is really a must read for understanding the current situation with Trumpcare 2.0. The key issue is that this exercise is really not about passing a law that repeals or in some limited sense replaces Obamacare. It’s really about getting the Freedom Caucus (the far-right group among House Republicans) off the hook for failing to repeal Obamacare. And also, the 100 Days.
Right or wrong, the Freedom Caucus took much of the blame for the failure of repeal on round one. My own sense is that it probably would have failed on the moderate side of the caucus as well. But the Freedom guys preen more effectively and negotiate in public. Pushing through this new bill – a Freedom Caucus-friendly bill with their votes – allows the right-wingers in the Freedom Caucus to say, ‘We didn’t fail. We repealed Obamacare. The Senate screwed up. Or maybe the House moderates screwed up.’ Either way the blame is off them.
Meanwhile, the President is on high single digit tweet storms over his 100 Days ego injury. Passing Trumpcare 2.0 in the House gets him something to point to that he’s accomplished during his first 100 days in office. The fact that it is highly unlikely to get through the Senate is something he’ll ignore. In any case, it’s hard to prove that it won’t pass the Senate. He’ll hold it up as an amazing achievement.
The upshot is that President Trump and House Hardliners both have fairly narrow and selfish interests in pushing this through the House, just not one tied to any likelihood of actually becoming law. But it comes at the cost of forcing moderates (who tend to be but are not all in swing districts) to vote on a bill which will haunt them when they run for reelection – even if it never becomes law.
The Democrats must scarcely be able to believe their luck. Unbridled Republican infighting and no center of gravity to bring factions to heel is leading to the best of all worlds in partisan terms. Get vulnerable Republicans to vote yes on a toxic bill even though there’s little chance the horrendous policy outcomes will ever happen. If this happens the Dems will get their cake and have it too.