There were clear winners and losers in the aftermath of the Republican health care bill fiasco, with Democrats having all of the reasons to celebrate.
1). Donald Trump – Trump personally lobbied 120 House Republicans. He held numerous meetings with House Republicans on the Hill and in the White House, and at the end of the day, he couldn’t get enough votes to pass a health care bill that he supported. Trump was exposed as being politically weaker than anyone could have imagined. He has no ability to sway members of Congress within his own party. Trump still has not signed a major piece of legislation. His first major attempt at getting a bill passed resulted in total humiliation. The implosion of his health care bill confirmed the impression that Trump is a failing president.
2). Paul Ryan – For years, Speaker Ryan has been dreaming of a Republican-controlled federal government that would pass his agenda. Ryan got his government and then completely failed to keep his caucus unified, as the same dysfunctional ideological forces that paralyzed the House for years took apart his health care bill. Paul Ryan showed no leadership, no ability to round up votes, and was powerless to hold Republicans together. Ryan made John Boehner look like a strong Speaker with his performance on health care. It turns out that Ryan isn’t a wonk, or a good leader, or respected among his peers.
3). The Republican Ability to Govern – Even with control of Congress and the White House, Republicans still can’t govern. Republicans wanted control of everything. They got it, and then promptly fell on their faces. This is a black eye that Republicans will not soon get over. House Republicans have been screaming loudly and proudly since 2011 that they have no interest in governing. The same Republicans who want to vote against everything killed their own health care bill. Repealing Obamacare was supposed to be the easy issue for Republicans. If they can’t keep it together on health care, they may not pass a single major piece of legislation that becomes law this year.
1). Nancy Pelosi – For years as Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi has demonstrated an ability to hold Democrats together. Trump and Ryan picked up zero Democrats on any of the procedural votes for the health care bill. No Democrats supported the bill, and zero Democrats would have voted for the bill. While Paul Ryan was unable to get enough votes for passage as Republicans split in an at least three different directions, Democrats were a united front, and the credit for that unity goes to Nancy Pelosi.
2). The Democratic Party – Trump and Ryan did Democrats a gigantic favor when the came up with a health care bill that was so unpopular it ended up with a 17% approval rating. The bill was so offensive to everything that Democrats stand for. As Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) said during his speech on the House floor, “I will fight any bill that turns the clock back to a darker time. I will fight every single attempt to turn a deaf ear, a blind eye, and a cold shoulder to the sick, to our seniors, and to working families.” Democrats rediscovered their heart, soul, and purpose in this health care fight, and they emerged as a stronger opposition to Trump and the GOP.
3). Barack Obama – For numerous reasons, Obama is a winner. His signature legislative achievement is alive and well. While the ACA is not as popular as Medicare and Social Security is getting more popular by the year, and is already viewed by many as a cherished right. Obama looks great compared to the way that Trump has bumbled and fumbled on health care. The nation took for granted the steady competence of Obama, but they have gotten a crash course in presidential incompetence, thanks to Donald Trump.
4). The American People – Someday the American people will look back on this day and realize that they dodged a large bullet. Republicans are still going to try to take health care away from millions, but the good news is that 14 million people won’t be losing their health care next year, Medicaid isn’t about to be destroyed, and control of health care won’t be handed back to the insurance companies. This is a great day for America, as a horrible piece of legislation met its deserved fate.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association