The art of the deal, not so much. Facing Republicans in disarray over the GOP replacement to Obamacare after a rather disastrous roll out, President Trump thought threatening Republicans would be the way to go.
That isn’t working out so well.
Minutes after Trump warned House Republicans that many of them will lose their seats in 2018 if they don’t pass Trumpcare (AHCA), the chair of the conservative freedom caucus blew off Trump’s threat, even though it was directly aimed at him.
Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) isn’t budging.
“I serve at the pleasure of the people of western North Carolina, and when you serve at their pleasure, it’s only those 750,000 people that can send you home,” The Hill reported Meadows telling reporters minutes after Trump’s threat.
So much for Trump’s threat to Meadows, “I think Mark Meadows will get there, too. Mark, I’m coming after you.”
The Hill reports that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is also standing firm against the bill.
Rep. Budd (R-NC) is also a “no” for Trumpcare after meeting with President Trump Tuesday. “As currently written, I cannot support the American Health Care Act,” Budd said in a statement reported by the Washington Examiner. “This bill leaves the structure of Obamacare in place and does not provide the relief that North Carolina families need from high premiums.”
Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA), who is a former Trump surrogate, moved to a hard no after Trump’s threats. The Huffington Post reported he cited concerns about undocumented immigrants taking advantage of the Republican plan, “I moved from a lean no to a no.”
Dan Holler , the Vice President of conservative Heritage Action for America, said in a statement sent to PoliticusUSA that they will key vote against the AHCA barring changes that repeal Title I of Obamacare. Title 1’s regulations are the issue for Heritage. Holler linked to Mike Needham’s tweet, explaining more:
Barring additional changes, the AHCA keeps the architecture of ObamaCare (Title I regs) in place. Heritage Action will be keyvoting against.
— Michael Needham (@MikeNeedham) March 21, 2017
Republicans promised a repeal of Obamacare and a replacement that lives up to their ideas about a free market, but also ostensibly would somehow provide lower premiums and not kick people off of their healthcare. Unfortunately, putting that into action is a lot harder than trolling Obamacare for eight years.
The problem Republicans are having is ultimately they are stuck between their constituents being kicked off of their healthcare after the CBO scored Trumpcare and determined (even using Republican math) that 24 million people could be kicked off of their insurance over ten years and their promises about the free market.
It’s hard to have a free market solution that takes care of the vulnerable. This is why Obamacare was designed to use the marketplace idea, but also build in protection for the sick and the poor with a Medicaid expansion. Obamacare is paid for in part by taxing the top 2%. This was also a problem for Republicans.
But finding solutions to these problems is proving much more difficult than Republican imagined.
President Trump just threatened members of his own party, and they shrugged and ignored him in response. That’s a pretty decent signal that Trump’s political power is much weaker than it needs to be to push any agenda, particularly one as volatile and difficult as healthcare reform.
Congressional Republicans are unwilling to stand up to President Trump when it comes to really investigating his ties to Russia after Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, but on matters of Trumpcare not repealing enough regulations, not going far enough, and not lowering premiums, Republicans have found a spine.