Nobody Knew Governing Could Be So Complicated

McKay Coppins: “The GOP’s inability to maneuver a health-care bill through the House this week—after seven years of promising to repeal and replace Obamacare—is, indeed, emblematic of a deeper dysfunction that grips his party. But that dysfunction may not be as easy to cure as Ryan and other GOP leaders believe.”

“That’s because it has been nearly a decade since Washington Republicans were in the business of actual governance. Whether you view their actions as a dystopian descent into cynical obstructionism or a heroic crusade against a left-wing menace, the GOP spent the Obama years defining itself—deliberately, and thoroughly—in opposition to the last president. Rather than engage the Obama White House in a more traditional legislative process—trading favors, making deals, seeking out areas where their interests align—conservatives in Congress opted to boycott the bargaining table altogether. Meanwhile, they busied themselves with a high-minded (and largely theoretical) intra-party debate about what 21st-century conservatism should stand for. They spent their time dealing in abstract ideas, articulating lofty principles, reciting memorized quotes from the Founding Fathers.”

“In many ways, the strategy paid off: Republicans took back Congress, slowed the progress of an agenda they genuinely opposed, and ultimately seized control of the White House. But it also came at a cost for the GOP—their lawmakers forgot how to make laws. Indeed, without any real expectation of their bills actually being enacted, the legislative process mutated into a platform for point-scoring, attention-getting, and brand-building.”

The Biggest Broken Promise In Political History

Phillip Klein: “Republicans ran on repealing and replacing Obamacare for seven years, over the course of four election cycles… Republicans were always moving the goal posts on voters.”

“That is, during campaign season, they made boasts about repeal, and then once in office, they talked about procedural complications. In 2010, they campaigned on repeal, but by 2011, they said they needed the Senate. In 2014, they won the Senate, but by 2015 they said as long as Obama was in office, nothing would become law. In 2016, they told conservative voters, even reluctant ones, that if they voted for Trump despite any reservations, they’d finally be able to repeal Obamacare. In November, voters gave them unified control of Washington. And yet after just two months on the job, they have thrown in the towel and said they’re willing to abandon seven years of promises.”

Health Bill Failure May Hurt Tax Overhaul Effort

“Republicans’ spectacular failure to repeal and replace Obamacare threatens to sabotage another cornerstone of their agenda, tax reform — because of simple math,” Politico reports.

“The GOP was counting on wiping out nearly $1 trillion in Obamacare taxes to help finance the sweeping tax cuts they’ve got planned for their next legislative act. And now it’s unclear where all that money will come from.”

The Inside Story of How Trump Failed on Health Care

Washington Post: “For Trump, it was never supposed to be this hard. As a real estate mogul on the rise, he wrote The Art of the Deal, and as a political candidate, he boasted that nobody could make deals as beautifully as he could. Replacing Obamacare, a Republican boogeyman since the day it was enacted seven years ago, was Trump’s first chance to prove that he had the magic touch that he claimed eluded Washington.”

“But Trump’s effort was plagued from the beginning. The bill itself would have violated a number of Trump’s campaign promises, driving up premiums for millions of citizens and throwing millions more off health insurance — including many of the working-class voters who gravitated to his call to “make America great again.” Trump was unsure about the American Health Care Act, though he ultimately dug in for the win, as he put it.”

White House Is Keeping a ‘Shit List’

“According to multiple Trump administration officials speaking to the Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity to talk freely, the president is angry that his first big legislative push is crumbling before his eyes—and his chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon is advising him to take names and keep a hit list of Republicans who worked for Trumpcare’s defeat.”

Said one official: “Bannon has told the president to keep a shit list on this. He wants a running tally of the Republicans who want to sink this. Not sure if I’d call it an enemies list, per se, but I wouldn’t want to be on it.”

Jonathan Swan: “What leadership keenly understands is that the bottom falls out on a vote like this. It’s not like Trump will get a clear read on who is with him and who’s against. Members that are currently in the ‘yes’ column will not vote for a bill that is going down and will have the negative implications hung around their neck in the fall of 2018. If GOP leaders put the bill on the floor without the votes to win, it won’t lose by a handful, it will lose badly.”

GOP Leaders Not Confident In Votes for Health Bill

“House GOP leaders aren’t confident they have enough votes to pass their embattled health-care bill, according to a senior congressional aide, and are already considering what to do if the measure is blocked before a do-or-die vote hours away,” Bloomberg reports.

Speaker Paul Ryan was heading to the White House to brief President Trump ahead of the scheduled afternoon vote.

A source tells Politico the GOP leadership may pull the bill: “They’re getting farther from, not closer to, 215.”

Good point from Maggie Haberman: “Word of caution for all as details leak from White House – Trump loves misdirection, so do some aides. Narrative and reality may not match.”

Top Republican Deals Trumpcare a Potentially Fatal Blow

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) said that he would vote against the GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill, the Huffington Post reports.

“Frelinghuysen’s opposition is significant not only because Republican leadership can only afford to lose 21 or 22 votes, but also because he is the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Committee chairpersons typically vote in line with the House leadership – and indeed set the party line and help pull recalcitrant members on board.”

Voters Oppose Most Trump Budget Cuts

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters oppose the spending cuts listed in President Trump’s proposed federal budget, including 70% to 25% against eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

By wide margins, however, American voters say other proposed cuts are a bad idea:

  • 87% to 9% against cutting funding for medical research;
  • 84% to 13% against cutting funding for new road and transit projects;
  • 67% to 31% against cuts to scientific research on the environment and climate change;
  • 83% to 14% against cutting funding for after school and summer school programs;
  • 66% to 27% against eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities;
  • 79% to 17% against eliminating the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Trump Will Get Regular Reports About His Businesses

Eric Trump told Forbes he will keep his father “abreast of the family business’ profits.”

Said Trump: “I am deadly serious about that exercise. I do not talk about the government with him, and he does not talk about the business with us. That’s kind of a steadfast pact we made, and it’s something that we honor.”

However, just two minutes later he admitted he would give his father reports “on the bottom line, profitability reports and stuff like that, but you know, that’s about it,”  adding that the updates will be “probably quarterly.”

White House Preparing to Blame Ryan If Health Bill Fails

“Behind the scenes, the president’s aides are planning to blame Ryan if there is an embarrassing defeat on a bill that has been a Republican goal for more than seven years,” a senior administration official tells Bloomberg.

“Trump said Friday at the White House that Ryan shouldn’t lose his job if the bill goes down. But asked whether Trump, Ryan, or the Freedom Caucus chairman, North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows, would be most to blame if the bill fails, the administration official said Ryan. The official insisted on anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.”