Saturday, March 25, 2017

RyanCare Collapse

Yesterday was a spectacular failure for Republicans, Deal Making, Tax Cuts for the 1%, and Increased American Mortality. The Ryan-Care Trump-Plan exploded before take-off with the last minute fixes getting the bill further from passing rather than closer as the party flailed wildly. By some estimates there were approximately 60 (!) no-votes in the end.

This is, of course, because the bill served no master in the GOP: Yeah, it cut taxes for the super-wealthy--but tax reform will already do that. For moderates, it cost people their insurance. For conservatives, it didn't go far enough--so this problem was kinda predictable. The only part that wasn't predictable was that the Freedom Caucus didn't cave--and THAT was due in large part to Trump actively fumbling the negotiations!
Then Trump made a mistake. After singling out Meadows and asking him to stand up in front of his colleagues, Trump joked that he might "come after" the Freedom Caucus boss if he didn't vote yes, and then added, with a more serious tone: "I think Mark Meadows will get on board." 
It was a crucial misreading of Meadows, who has been determined to please both the White House and his conservatives colleagues on the Hill. Upon assuming the chairmanship of the Freedom Caucus earlier this year, Meadows was viewed suspiciously by some of his members who worried that the North Carolina congressman is too cozy with Trump and would hesitate to defy him. 
A great deal of electronic ink has been spilled trying to determine what this means. Here is what "it means."

What Failure To Repeal Obamacare Means

Firstly, it turns out that the GOP doesn't really care that much about Obamacare. They'll take their bloody nose and move ahead. Their base will more or less go along with it (see the exception). This is because healthcare is a Gordian knot for the GOP that they cannot untie and are unwilling to cut. Their base really, really hated Obama and even his giving a bunch of them healthcare didn't change that fact.

The actual policy? Like Medicare and Social Security? They're okay with--kinda.

Secondly, they may find it easier to agree on the goals of Tax Reform--but they will find it as hard or harder to implement. This is because while they all agree that taxes should be cut--and especially for the wealthy and corporations:

  1. The cutting of Obamacare taxes was supposed to be a big bonus for the wealthy. It won't happen now.
  2. Trump's agenda is, excepting O-care, pretty pricey. Plus he's contemplating some "kinetic actions" which will also be pricey. Trump doesn't really understand the finances (it seems) but he's going to demand that the federal government pay for some stuff (the wall, etc.) and people are going to ask where the money will come from. His go-to: order the work and then not pay--will not work from the White House.
  3. While the goals may be easier with Tax Reform, the details are probably harder. While Republicans were, it turns out, not real sure what their constituents really wanted in a bill (just not Ryan's Plan), a bunch of their leaders do know exactly what they want in tax reform and that's going to create differing policy-drivers.
  4. The stakes are going to be high--but the time factor is going to be difficult: Trump wants a win tomorrow. Tax reform will take months or years.
  5. Going small: Tax cuts is the obvious answer--but the GOP may expect more from their total ownership than marginalia.

The Big One Though - Ryan and The Bus

What this really means, though, is that Trump, having been handed a narcissistic injury of bigly proportions, will have no emotional restraint to keep him from throwing Ryan under the bus. This will be done in two ways:
  1. Surrogates (Breitbart) will get Weapons Free Clearance on Ryan--and, uhm, his wife. Flynn Jr. Is already tweeting that Ryan's wife is a huge Democratic operative. Breitbart unleashes a special on first, Ryan's weakness in the House--and second with articles about Hollywood celebrities rejoicing in the failure of repeal. Trump-friendly press will need bad-guys to exonerate Trump and while Democrats are the go-to, in this case, that's gonna be hard to sell.
  2. Trump will publicly say most of the right things and then complain in private. The complaints will leak like crazy.
The net result of Trump's self-destructive need to blame is not solely due to the fact that Trump is incompetent and unwilling to accept responsibility. It's also due to the fact that Ryan really did launch a dog of a bill and, for inexplicable reasons, Trump signed on to it.

From Trump's perspective the only way out of this bill was to throw Ryan under the bus early and hard. A look at the bill could have told Trump and his advisers it would never become law. The reason Ryan though it would is because he put the basic concepts of it in his 'Better Way' plan and was under the impression that the (broad) agreement on it was real. Ryan seems to have been surprised that people "ran on" this--but didn't actually support it.

This was foolish--they "ran on it" because it gave them a fig-leaf of a plan. They didn't support it because governance is hard and Ryan is more a P90X policy-bro than a leader or consensus builder. The black-eye that Ryan got is really, probably, surprising to him--and exposing for the Republicans. Mainly, what it exposed was a moderate group that really likes being elected officials and realize that although their base doesn't really get it, when they lose healthcare they'll feel it.

You might think that throwing Ryan under the bus is no big thing--Ryan's a big boy and it really is his failure. That's not the case: Trump's legal teflon is directly proportional to Trump's perceived ability to sign conservative legislation. If Ryan is catastrophically weakened against Trump they will start to realize that Trump is really in this for himself and getting conservative legislation to Trump's desk requires a leader somewhere. That isn't Ryan. It . . . might not be anyone. It sure isn't Trump.

When that happens, do you think that Trump's base will realize he isn't accomplishing things and turn on him? No. They'll turn on congress. If Trump's base turns on the House? They'll impeach him.


UPDATE: Bannon is, apparently, keeping a "shit list" of R's who were planned "no"-votes on the bill. The idea being there will be a reckoning for them at some point. This is the sort of thing that prevents Trump from just 'moving on' with ease or style.

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