So you think you’ve got Donald Trump all figured out, huh? As John Wayne would say, “not hardly.” In fact, if the Duke were alive today, I doubt there would be a bigger fan of the president. Certainly there’s a machismo shared by these two American legends, if nothing else.
While most of Washington buzzes in a self-obsessed flurry of analysis regarding the health care legislation getting pulled, some of us can detect a clear Trump maneuver in the mist. After all, not everything can be learned about Donald Trump by reading the Art of the Deal. That was business, this is politics. The differences are as telling as they are necessary. For instance: some enemies identify themselves at the door, others must be flushed out. Hence, the great health care bill debacle of 2017…
At first glance, you might render the opinion that the president waded into the depths of murky congressional waters, such that he wasn’t prepared to navigate. That would be a critical error in judgement, if you ask me. What better way for Trump to assess the playing field, then to allow Speaker Ryan to roll up his sleeves and fire up his PowerPoint? Make sure it’s called “Ryan Care,” which it was, and make sure your much maligned chief-of-staff knows it’s his job to push the bill. If you’re Trump, do just enough to create the illusion you want this bill, but never allow it to be conceptualized as anything that could taint the “Trump brand.” Then, stand back and watch as all your enemies show their hands, while others blow precious political capital on a clunker of a bill.
Trump has set up a scenario where democrats are happily cheering on the sidelines for an imploding policy failure that America hates and cannot afford. What’s more, he’s identified republicans that will defy him openly to the media, and for the encore: he exposes Paul Ryan’s soft, yellow underbelly as Speaker. Not bad for a few rough news cycles, huh?
Yes, the health care bill failing will limit our ability to cut taxes. Yes, it will limit the scope and ambition of our tax reform package. And yes, this inaction will lead to a regionally applied and catastrophic failure of Obamacare within 12 months. The markets will get jittery, and pension funds nationwide will slide back into red as quickly as they began to recover. Hell of time for a Primary election, don’t you think?
By the Fall, health care premiums will be in the stratosphere, more insurance carriers will be pulling out altogether, and states that adopted Medicaid expansion will suffer tremendous budget deficits as federal subsidies…well, subside. It’s a nightmare scenario for any incumbent facing a Primary challenge; of which, there will be plenty.
When that time comes, they will all crawl to the president for assistance. “Help us,” they will say, oblivious to the irony of it all. 2018 is your judgement day, congress. President Trump will live to see another fight, regardless of what majorities look like in Congress. Of course, republican voters nationwide are again reminded what a useless luxury majorities are anyway. Call on him, they will: “you must be presidential and do what’s best for the country!” And when that moment comes, the masters of the Beltway will be faced with the reality that the “rookie” president saw it all coming from a long way out. Humble pie will be served a la mode, after a healthy serving of crow.
“But the NY Times said Trump suffered a devastating blow!” Oh, really? How will it play out for Schumer and Pelosi when states like Ohio and Pennsylvania have exploding Medicaid costs, adding to already substantial deficits? Wonder how Sen Brown in Ohio will feel next year? I’m really, really curious what Gov Wolf and Sen Casey will think in PA. I doubt anyone of them can be saved now. It’s a political equation I’ve already solved after this week.
A reminder to everyone in the Beltway, republicans and democrats, establishment media, etc: Trump has one major weapon in his arsenal none of you have and that is us. We, the army of patriots who elected him, stand ready to dismiss those who obstruct the agenda. By any measure, any metric in politics, that’s what I call a “Trump card.”