The failure to pass the much-hated tax break disguised as a healthcare bill yesterday has now turned into a season finale for that Rating Machine, the Russian Usurper Donald Trump. And the new vote is today, according to the AP, the Procedural vote possible 10 a.m. EDT, final passage possible afternoon.
And let’s just put this out there: Trump never takes the blame for anything, so if this turd sandwich fails, then his obvious target is going to be the Zombie-eyed Granny-starver Paul Ryan, whom he’s never much liked. Expect to see Hair Führer to signal a coup (which of course will continue the complete mess of The Administrative State).
No one seems to know which way the vote could go, so we are consulting with our expert: Magic 8-Ball says, “Try again later,” and therefor we turn our attention to Mike ‘Payola’ Allen, writing at Axios morning email thingie:
“The GOP leadership’s view was that they’re still short on the vote count, and … simply calling a vote is not going to cause the whip count to go up. Members don’t want to vote on something that will fail.”
But lessons from the debacle are already apparent:
- For tax reform, the White House and congressional leaders should consider splitting key elements into separate measures that have a better chance of success than a massive package. “Congress can only absorb so much political pain on the way to making big changes,” a top lobbyist told me.
- Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, in a N.Y. Times front-pager headlined “A Brave Front, but Regrets? He Has a Few,” say Trump focused on the fight too late: “Trump has told four people close to him that he regrets going along with … Ryan’s plan to push a health care overhaul before unveiling a tax cut proposal more politically palatable to Republicans. … Trump was slow to recognize the high stakes of the fight, or the implications of losing. He approved the agenda putting health care first late last year, almost in passing.”
- Tucker Carlson, looking ahead to immigration reform on his Fox show last night, said Trump needs to employ fear sooner, and propose his own policy: “If the president wants an immigration bill, the White House ought to present its plan — not talking points, but a real plan, with details — explain what it is, why it works, how it will make the American middle class stronger than it already is, and then wield the stick. Make it plain that if Republican members of Congress won’t back that bill, the White House will support primary efforts by those who will.”
[Seriously, Payola Allen quotes hebephrenic TeeVee Dinner heir, vanity press owner, and Black Studies scholar Tucker Carlson. — TG]
- Dan Balz, in a front-page WashPost column,”In a do-or-die moment, Republicans come undone”: “Trump’s reputation as the closer in chief has taken a hit — and on the first big test of his presidency. The greater damage has been to the reputation of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan … as the savvy intellectual godfather of a new conservative agenda around which his party could rally.”
Regardless of the outcome, Trump has succeeded in one thing: He has maneuvered so that if the bill passes, he gets the credit. If it fails, Ryan gets the blame.
And so we move on to Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) morning email thingie:
THE BIG BET — PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP is getting a vote on his health care bill today on the House floor. If it fails, he’s leaving Obamacare in place.
— BY THE WAY … Trump, who has branded himself a dealmaker without parallel, gave this whole health-care process 18 days — including weekends and days Congress was out of session! Let us be abundantly clear: We were in the Capitol yesterday and talking to our vote-counting sources until late last night, and the situation is extremely fluid. Nobody knows how this is going to play out. But in Congress, 18 days is nothing.
BEFORE TRUMP’S ULTIMATUM, Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan did not have the votes to pass this bill. The conservative House Freedom Caucus and a dozen or so moderates were banding together against the health-care bill, keeping it well short of the vote threshold required for passage.
— THE REALITY. If it looks like this bill is going to fail, expect a LOT of people to vote no at the last minute. If you have a district where parts of the Affordable Care Act are at least somewhat popular, why would you walk the plank for something that will fail in the House and go nowhere in the Senate? Just ask House Democrats how that worked out for them on cap and trade.
— THE STAKES. What happens today will go a long way in dictating what the next few months look like for President Trump, Speaker Ryan and their agenda on Capitol Hill.
— RYAN . Defeat here would be bad for Ryan. It’s his chamber, his strategy and it would be mostly his loss. Ryan’s allies and even some cool to the speaker are trying to point to others — namely the Freedom Caucus — for taking an outsized role in the negotiations and dealing directly with the White House. But, just like we saw with John Boehner, the speaker cannot avoid all blame, whether he deserves it or not.
— TRUMP. He needs a win. If he loses, watch for him to blame Ryan, politics or Congress as an unruly and broken institution. But he said it was him — and only him — who could close deals.
And we’ll leave now to watch the vote. But first a timely reminder of the thought process of the people making decisions for women: