Trump’s Day of Reckoning

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Congress, Trump Maladministration

Charles Pierce, today:

The Rules Committee of the House of Representatives met shortly after dawn on Friday to try and set up a process by which Paul Ryan’s tax-cut plan could pass the full House at some point later in the day. On Thursday, after everything fell apart, the president* sent the head counselors at Camp Runamuck down to the Capitol to tell recalcitrant Republicans that what they had before them was his take-it-or-leave-it offer and that, if they chose not to pass it, then 24 million Americans wouldn’t lose their health insurance, get sick, go broke and/or die. The president* is betting that Republicans in Congress don’t want that on their consciences.

So they’re going to attempt another vote today on an Obamacare replacement bill that’s been rewritten so many times the Congressional Budget Office can’t keep up. As I wrote yesterday, Trump tried to get the Freedom Caucus on board by letting them make changes that made the whole thing even worse, but even that failed to close the deal. So, Trump-style, the so-called president told Congress that if they didn’t pass their bill today, they’d never get another chance at it and Obamacare would have to remain on the books.

Such a deal-maker, this guy. James Hohmann wrote,

 If you read Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal,” substituting “contractors” for “conservatives,” the president’s ultimatum to House Republicans on health care is not at all surprising. “You have to be very rough and very tough with most contractors or they’ll take the shirt right off your back,” Trump wrote in the 1987 business classic.

As a businessman, Trump bragged about his ability to drive a hard bargain to win favorable terms and make lots of money. “I also protect myself by being flexible,” he explained. “I never get too attached to one deal or one approach. … I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first.”

One theme he kept coming back to is that you’ve got to be willing to walk away or, more precisely, convince the people you’re negotiating with that you are. Trump recalled a 1981 meeting with the attorney general and the head of gaming enforcement for New Jersey in which he threatened to walk away from Atlantic City – despite already making huge investments on the Boardwalk there – if he didn’t get certain concessions.

He described the pitch: “Much as I wanted to build a great casino on the great site I’d assembled, I said, I have a very successful real estate business in New York and I was more than willing to walk away from Atlantic City if the regulatory process proved to be too difficult or too time-consuming. The bottom line, I concluded, was that I didn’t intend to invest any more money – or to begin any construction – until I got a decision one way or the other on my licensing.”

The problem, of course, is that a president has absolutely no authority — or “leverage,” as they say — to stop the House from passing any dadblamed bill it wants to pass. Sure, he could eventually veto it. But if sometime down the road Congress managed to pass an ACA replacement bill that nearly all Republicans and a couple of Democrats actually liked — a long shot, I realize — those same Republicans could do Trump a world of political hurt if he vetoed the thing.

But of course, it’s possible a sufficient number of House Republicans are too stupid to realize all that, and seriously think OMG if we don’t vote yes today Obamacare will be the law of the land forever!

The Koch boys are adding to the generally merriment by promising candy and flowers to Republican reps who vote no.

Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners, the two political action hubs of the Koch donor network, announced Wednesday night that they had a “seven-figure fund” ready to help Republicans who reject the American Health Care Act.

The fund will supplement an ongoing online campaign that’s thanking lawmakers who’ve promised to oppose the bill, which they say retains too many elements of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“In seven years, we have never wavered in our commitment to a full repeal of this disastrous law,” AFP President Tim Phillips said in a statement. “We want to make certain that lawmakers understand the policy consequences of voting for a law that keeps Obamacare intact. We have a history of following up and holding politicians accountable, but we will also be there to support and thank the champions who stand strong and keep their promise.”

One suspects that wavering congress critters are getting a lot of phone calls today, and not just from their constituents.

Politico is saying the vote today is too close to call. I am making no predictions. If it passes, the Senate is likely to take it apart and rewrite it anyway. And if it fails, that certainly doesn’t mean the danger is over. But failing would make the so-called president look very, very weak.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Swami  •  Mar 24, 2017 @12:56 pm

    In regard to Trump’s predicament .. I’ll reiterate Obama’s brilliant analysis..”Reality has a way of asserting itself.”

    If it fails Pence has told Trump to smear the failure all over Paulie Ryan. I don’t think Trump needed to be told that..That’s in the nature of the beast. But it would be fun to watch Trump ridicule Ryan as being a low energy incompetent who couldn’t get the job done.

  2. RadioClash  •  Mar 24, 2017 @1:00 pm

    Koch brothers are strong-arming Trump. They want Canadian sands oil pipeline, which they are invested heavily. If Trump wants the “healthcare” plan to pass, he knows what he has to do. Like magic, look what does he does this morning. Koch brothers, it’s your move now.

  3. moonbat  •  Mar 24, 2017 @1:01 pm

    What I’ve been nervous about is not so much the health care bill, but it’s really just the opening gambit, for the Rs to do all sorts of nefarious damage budget wise. If they can defund health care, then they get to enact bigger and more important tax cuts in other areas that matter more to them, without having to get the Democrats’ consent – it can be done through reconciliation. Or something to that effect.

    I’m actually glad to read about the Kochs effectively coming to the rescue of the ACA.

    Great bit by Dan Rather (remember him? remember real journalism? How I miss it) on Facebook

    Loser. That’s a word that Donald Trump fears being called more than any other. It is a word that he has wielded with relish against his enemies. But if the health care bill goes down in defeat, and at this point that is still a big if, Mr. Trump will be seen as a loser, and so will his new cheerleader Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
    A loser president. It’s a moniker that every president dreads, but especially President Trump. It strikes at the very essence of his being. It is why he rails away at conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Once you are seen as a loser in Washington your enemies are emboldened and your allies become skittish. Power can evaporate faster than dew in Dalhart.

    When you look back at the history of the modern presidency, the most accomplished denizens of the Oval Office came in with bold agendas that they quickly put in place. Look at Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, in particular. It must vex Mr. Trump no end to see the accomplishments of his predecessor used as a measuring stick for his own failures.

    I have said it before. We are in a cauldron of chaos and confusion bordering on havoc. We have thousands of key posts in the Federal Government yet unfilled, and we see an administration struggling to get much if anything done. Many have worried about Trump’s personality and character, but that can easily be explained away by his allies as a partisan divide. An even bigger question is his competence, and so far there has been not much demonstration of this key presidential quality. That is why you see members of his own party openly flouting Mr. Trump in the House and Senate.

    We must remember that Mr. Trump is not a Republican. It is not clear to me that he believes in any governing philosophy other than his own political expediency. He was basically an independent, maverick candidate. But the GOP leadership got behind him for strategic reasons. And now they will have to own that decision. The party base can easily flee with an excuse that Mr. Trump was never one of them.

    The struggles with the Republicans in Congress to formulate a coherent governing strategy shows how hollow their rhetoric was during the Obama years. They became the Party of No and not the party of ideas. Many of the best conservative thinkers have bemoaned that trend. Their concerns are now bearing bitter fruit.

    Meanwhile, the specter of Russia is a shadow that grows ever darker over the White House. An isolated president in an isolated administration looking at public losses and dropping popularity will react in ways no one can predict.

  4. Bardi  •  Mar 24, 2017 @2:38 pm

    “But failing would make the so-called president look very, very weak.”

    I think the president* does a great job doing that all by himself.

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Mar 24, 2017 @3:10 pm

    If t-RUMP-DON’T-CARE doesn’t pass, he can blame Ryan.
    And then, Ryan will soon be done as Speaker. (And no, I have no idea which GOP suicidal maniac will want the position – maybe bring back Newt!).

    What will happen, is that t-RUMPLE-Thin-Skin will blame Ryan and the MSM – both entities his t-RUMP-a-LOON-pa’s hate!

    He can blame the cowards in Congress, and won’t lose a singe base voter.

    I’m starting to appeciate t-RUMP’s “Stress” Secretary: Sean Spicy boy.
    He’s America’s version of Baghdad Bob.

  6. Gary Boyd  •  Mar 24, 2017 @3:57 pm

    I don’t know about the rest, but it took me a while to get thru to my congresscritter. His phone was busy for the longest… I had to redial it a dozen times before I got thru and that was his Washington office.

  7. Swami  •  Mar 24, 2017 @4:27 pm

    They pulled the bill… Ah, Paulie needs to whip those troops into shape and eliminate the dissention within the ranks.. Personally, I think the replace portion of repeal and replace was the weakness in getting the job done… 🙂
    I saw a video of Ryan yesterday where he walked out before a bank of microphones to announce that the vote would be cast today. He was wearing his stern face ,full of supposed resolve, when he dismissed reporter’s questions about the success of repeal and abruptly exited leaving an impression that everything was under control. Seems Paulie is going to have to eat a shit sandwich for dinner tonight.

  8. Swami  •  Mar 24, 2017 @5:34 pm

    I hope Paulie enjoys his shit sandwich…Yum, yum, eat ’em up!

  9. aj  •  Mar 24, 2017 @6:44 pm

    Well well 5 pm Friday and the AssHoleCare Act aka Trump Ryan tax cut and Medicaid evisceration Act has been pulled for A lack of Votes.
    Mr Big Mouth had the Head of Intel Committee pull a publicity stunt on Thursday to provide cover for Potus and quid pro quo sent Conway Bannon Priebus over to negotiate( ha) and it didn’t float because Republicans have their heads in an Ayn Rand novel and value ideology over governance.
    Americans did not vote for ACA repeal, they want good insurance as cheap as possible for all. A big mouth promised them a miracle but was too lazy to create detailed policy, Ryan was too lazy to write a comprehensive bill. His short repeal and cut taxes ,most detailed part was to make sure lottery winners didn’t get benefits. The Repubs, though, all think in terms of their own ideology and claim they had a mandate to be ideologically pure- not so. They need to get out of their bubble.

  10. chris  •  Mar 24, 2017 @6:54 pm

    “Koch brothers are strong-arming Trump. They want Canadian sands oil pipeline, which they are invested heavily. If Trump wants the “healthcare” plan to pass, he knows what he has to do.”

    Done.
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/24/keystone-xl-pipeline-permit-trump-administration

  11. uncledad  •  Mar 24, 2017 @9:41 pm
  12. chris  •  Mar 25, 2017 @4:58 pm

    …and it seems that despite giving the go-ahead on the pipeline, it wasn’t enough to buy their votes. Why? Because the Kochs are die hard Libertarians where they believe the government must be 100% out of everything except defense. This is why they are working so hard to rewrite the Constitution. And they are just a couple of states short of doing it. https://www.conventionofstates.com/

  13. Swami  •  Mar 26, 2017 @12:49 am

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeanine-pirro-paul-ryan-step-down_us_58d71649e4b02a2eaab4bc79?151biko6og3gv0wwmi&

    Looks like Trump has started his campaign to reinforce Ryan’s failure. He’s going to praise Ryan up and down for working really hard to get the bill passed, but in the end Ryan’s name will become synonymous with failure..He’ll wear Trump’s failure. Trump is going to make Paulie his bitch and Paulie can’t do anything about it. He’ll be Trump’s whipping boy. He’s going to be a stablemate with Reince Pribus.

  14. Dan  •  Mar 26, 2017 @2:13 pm

    On the Convention of States (somehow i’m on their mailing list):

    The same people who brilliantly voted in a self-proclaimed billionaire (conman) to help them drain the swamp (i.e., get rid of Republicans) are now being asked to rewrite the Constitution because “This time we will get it right…”

    Like the common man’s problem is with the Constitution, and not all the Republicans in office (who are pushing the Constitution rewrite on their own terms)!

    PT Barnum was an optimist concerning Americans…

  15. csm  •  Mar 26, 2017 @3:32 pm

    The GOP has painted itself into a corner on healthcare. That should have been self-evident by virtue of the fact that “success” for Ryan et al was passing a bill with 17% support that would remove healthcare from 20+ million people while driving up the cost of to do it.

    Trump, having no core values, innate political philosophy and ignorance of how government works, turned his back on his campaign promises to supporters — deliver healthcare to all that is better and cheaper, shore up and increase social security, bring back jobs, instead chose to cleave to GOP leadership and Ryan and thereby go over the cliff with them. Hence this too late effort to pull back while in free-fall by blaming Ryan.

    If they attempt to “improve” the bill to meet the expectations of the Trumpanzees in the hinterlands, they run afoul Ayn Ryan and to a larger extent the “Freedom” Caucus. The Freedom Caucus don’t want half a loaf; for them its all or nothing, no compromise. Any bill that satisfies them is dead on arrival in the House AND Senate.

    The only way out for the GOP and Trump, on health care and any legislation for that matter, is to get democratic votes, and they will have to moderate to do it. Coming hat in hand is not in Trump’s DNA though, and is certainly afoul of Bannon and company whose agenda is not governing but settling political scores. Of course, this means the Freedom Caucus/Tea Party absolutists will essentially be the Trump card (pun intended) that will end up stymieing efforts to Make America Great Again.

    There’s only one way out for Trump, and that’s war.

  16. Doug  •  Mar 27, 2017 @2:28 pm

    According to Martin Longman at Washington Monthly – the failure of repeal screwed tax cuts for this year. Yeah, they’re connected procedurally and he goes over it.

    http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/03/27/how-a-tricky-tactic-by-congressional-republicans-destroyed-trumps-agenda/

    Wall Street may be figuring out that the twin gifts to the bottom line – tax cuts and tax relief from health care are NOT going to happen. The Dow is in an 8-day slide. I suspect that when Congress does NOT regroup, the slide will get steeper and longer.

  17. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Mar 27, 2017 @3:38 pm

    For those interested in the reasoning for health care first, one of the rules of reconciliation is that it has to have a 10 year budget impact – it might be that it needs to be “neutral” but I’m not sure if that’s neutral on dollars, on percentage, on the deficit, etc..

    If they passed health care *first*, they had a change in the baseline that would make further tax cuts easier. Thankfully, they fornicated the proverbial poodle on that one.

    They still feel tax cuts are their due; they won an election, and those money-worshipping soi disant Christians need to pay tribute to their overlord Mammon.

  18. Bill  •  Mar 27, 2017 @8:10 pm

    “There’s only one way out for Trump, and that’s war.”

    Well, he could get dragged out by a couple honor guardsmen while repeatedly shouting “YER FIRED!” in madman tones. But it may be too early for that yet.

  19. Swami  •  Mar 27, 2017 @8:28 pm

    There’s only one way out for Trump, and that’s war.

    I know Bush was eager to attach the “wartime president” nomenclature to his laurels, but if ever there is a president who would covet that designation it would have to be Trump. He’s got some sort of unfulfilled desire to be a military man. That’s why he surrounds himself with former Generals.. I assume he’s trying to compensate for his draft dodging days and assuage his cowardice. When I look at his lapel pin and think of the time honored expression for Old Glory..That, these colors never run..I can’t say the same thing about the big bag of shit cowering beneath that lapel pin.

  20. goatherd  •  Mar 28, 2017 @7:22 am

    I am generally a little guarded concerning articles about people switching sides or having political epiphanies, especially those that seem consistent with what I might have expected. But, this article reinforces what (I think) many of us have in our minds.

    Sorry, about the sentence structure, etc. I’m just getting over a cold, and I’m a bit addled.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/15/opinion/sunday/charlie-sykes-on-where-the-right-went-wrong.html?_r=1



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